used without permission, for "fair use" only
Tomislav Mercep: Let Boljkovac Explain Who Took $500,000 From Arkan
by Zvonimir DESPOT
Vecernji List, Zagreb, Croatia, April 2, 2001
Former Internal Affairs [Police] Minister Josip Boljkovac made serious accusations against Tomislav Mercep, a former adviser in the Croatian Ministry of Internal Affairs, in an interview Vecernji List published on Saturday. Some even claim that these accusations may be sufficient to draw the attention of the Hague Tribunal. However, Mercep has counter arguments.
Boljkovac Did Not Allow Exchange of Our Policemen
"Boljkovac always knows which ones and where some Croats may have made mistakes, but he never talks about his mistakes. And he was at the time the Minister of Internal Affairs. If I did something wrong, he was obliged to arrest me. He says that extremists appointed me for the adviser, but I was appointed to that position by Josip Manolic. Consequently, Boljkovac admits that Manolic is an extremists and I agree with that. Spegelj was at the time my commander in chief, as he was the Defense Minister, and I respected and obeyed him. I did not do anything on my own initiative, neither in Gospic nor in Pakrac, and I am sure that I am innocent. They tried to frame me for Gospic and Pakrac and now they are accusing me for Vukovar. How can Boljkovac claim that about ten Serbs were killed every day in Vukovar when, while I was there only five Serbs were killed and it is known how that happened," says Mercep.
"However, Boljkovac should be aware," continues Mercep, "of the death of our friends in Borovo Selo, where nine policemen died. We caught Arbutina and wanted to exchange him for our three wounded policemen, but Boljkovac did not allow that, so that our wounded were killed, and Arbutina released. Similarly, Boljkovac should be best informed about the corpses in the Danube. Croats in Vukovar cried when we saw corpses of our friends from Dalj floating in the Danube. All of us know who did that. The old dinosaur should realize that the time when people were sent to Communist concentration camps is over. I believe that soon he and his friends from the Communist and Serb secret services will be tried for their crimes. Everywhere else in the world, those who were in such services do not talk about ethics. Only here such individuals lecture others. Boljkovac should tell us who took $500,000 from Arkan. He or Manolic? Let them figure that out and admit their guilt."
Mercep claims that this is not a personal conflict between him and Boljkovac and Manolic, but that Boljkovac, and not only him, is afraid of the possible success of Mercep's party in the forthcoming [local] elections.
I Went To Karlovac Based On Josko Moric's Orders
"Josip Manolic and Stipe Mesic are also running scared and they gave orders to slander Mercep. These days Mesic paroled five Serb war criminals and let them go to Serbia and in return we got three officers of the Serbian counter-intelligence service, two Serbs and one Croat. And he hadn't told that to the Croatian public, even though he should have. Unfortunately, I know a lot, but I regret that Stipe Mesic is taking part in that, because he should not be in Boljkovac's and Manolic's company. But birds of the same feather flock together," believes Mercep. Mercep denies Boljkovac's accusation that he came to Karlovac to cleanse Serbs.
"Boljkovac should know that I went to Karlovac based on Josko Moric's orders as at that time a police vehicle was hit and five persons burned to death in it. I went to talk with Stajduhar in Jarce Polje, and he was well disposed towards me. He said that there was no need for reinforcements. We were ordered to return and all of that lasted less than thirty minutes." Tomislav Mercep adds that he never feared anyone, and that he is not afraid of the Hague Tribunal. "The Hague Tribunal is a smart institution and they know who Josip Boljkovac, Josip Manolic and Josip Perkovic are. Unlike the former two, Perkovic did become a gentlemen. And I will sue Boljkovac. I do that every time they accuse me and I wait for them to prove their accusations," concludes Mercep.
Perica Juric: Boljkovac Takes Orders From Croatian or Hague Prosecutors
Former Josip Boljkovac's deputy and vice-president of the HDZ Perica Juric told us that the best response to the statements of his former boss would be "no comment". But, Juric said, he could not pass the fact that politicians are these days turning into prosecutors of the Hague Tribunal. "These are well-known old Boljkovac's assertions, except that in this case some of the assertions can be in the function of accusations by the Hague Tribunal, for example those related to Mercep, but also to the group that was in Plitvice when Josip Jovic was killed. Boljkovac says that Jovic was killed by a bullet that we also used, suggesting that he was killed by the Croat side. I find that claim outrageous, as well as assertions that corpses floating in the Danube were not of dead Croats. That is simply horrendous. I do not know what the purpose of Boljkovac's appearance could be, except that it is obvious that it is based on the initiative by the prosecutor's office, either here or in the Hague," believes Juric.
Disoriented Former Communists
He also disagrees with Boljkovac's claim that Yugoslav People's Army officers were the main force of the Croatian defensive war and the Croatian Army. "That is nonsense. They naturally did offer a lot of support to the new structures that were being created, but it is not true that they were the most important factor. The most important factor were Croatian patriots who joined as fresh forces the then Ministry of Internal Affairs [Police], then the National Guard and the Ministry of Defense. The former Communists were disoriented and confused, more concerned about their own existence and their own status than about the future of the homeland. The young and crazy were interested in the future of the homeland, they died for the homeland and did not ask about the salary," claims Juric and adds that he had cooperated well and according to the law with Boljkovac, but that there was nothing else in their relationship.
Perica Juric also addressed Boljkovac's assertion about the preparation of an assassination attempt on president Tudman within the HDZ, as well as the Serbian secret service spies. "During the formation of the HDZ, as well as later, as far as the democratic elections and coming to power are concerned, both in the HDZ and the authorities there were many people who were agents of various Yugoslav secret services, and they functioned in different ways. However, most of them wanted to leave their past behind because they realized that the new time had come and that they were better off by switching allegiance and trying to build a new and better future for themselves. A significant portion of them strongly supported the Serb policy at the time and they directly worked against us. Some of them were unmasked, and some of them were simply defeated by the time and events. We never made a big deal as far as people like that were concerned. For some we knew what they were doing, and for others we did not, because most of that documentation was and still is in Belgrade. Josip Manolic could say more about that.
Rumors To Tudman About Assassination
"And I have heard about all this regarding Tudman before. As far as evidence is concerned, one should keep in mind that it was always useful to imply to the president that he was under threat, because thereby the security services appeared more valuable, drew president's attention and got more funding. That was always popular. This is, however, manipulation with half-truths," Juric assures us. Perica Juric believes that stories and interview such as one given by Boljkovac to Vecernji List are "pointless and can only contribute to political showdowns and hatred, which cannot be the goal of the public, or politics, or any sensible individuals".
Translated on August 17, 2001