Croatian President: believes the trial of Dragan Vasiljkovic will be fair

Croatian President Ivo Josipovic said that he believes the trial of Dragan Vasiljkovic, who was arrested in Australia yesterday, will be fair.

“I do believe that today in Croatia everybody can expect a fair trial. As in any legal system, we have all that is needed to monitor the quality of the trial,” he said yesterday, speaking for the Croatian media after Australia announced that Vasiljkovic, aka Captain Dragan, had been arrested.

Vasiljkovic, known in Australia as Daniel Snedden, fought Croatia’s request for his extradition for four years, claiming that he would not receive a fair trial in Croatia because of his political views.

The Australian Ministry of Home Affairs announced yesterday that he had been arrested after 43 days in hiding.

Vasiljkovic could not be located by police on March 30 as the Australian High Court handed down a ruling that he could be extradited to Croatia to face war crimes charges. A worldwide manhunt ensued, and an alert was issued by Interpol.

In Croatia Vasiljkovic is indicted for war crimes committed between 1991 and 1993 in the area of Knin. He has denied all the charges.

Until the final decision on extradition is made by the Australian home affairs minister, Vasiljkovic will remain in extradition detention.

According to a press release issued by the ministry: “In accordance with normal extradition practice, Mr Snedden will have the opportunity to make representations as to why he should not be surrendered. Relevant representations will be taken into account by the Minister for Home Affairs…”

According to the web portal, Croatian Justice Minister Ivica Simonovic said that extradition could be delayed only if Vasiljkovic is sick. If not, Simonovic said, in a next few days he could be surrendered to Croatia.

After he disappeared more than a month ago, some media speculated that Vasiljkovic, who was born in Serbia and holds Serbian citizenship, could be hiding in the country.

Following his arrest, Bruno Vekaric, spokesperson for Serbian state prosecution, told media that those speculations were made in order to “turn away attention from his real place of hiding”.

Captain Dragan led the Red Berets paramilitary unit that was created under the patronage of the state security in Serbia, but acted in Croatia and Bosnia during wars from 1991 to 1995.

According to media reports and witness statements, Vasiljkovic was involved in crimes committed in the area of Zvornik in Bosnia, but he has not been indicted for any alleged crimes there.

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