Croatian politician and former high ranking army officer Branimir Glavaš was arrested in Bosnia-Herzegovina on Tuesday. Glavaš holds both Croatian and Bosnian citizenships, and was found guilty and sentenced to eight years in prison in Zagreb for 1991 war crimes committed against Croatia’s ethnic Serb civilians.
The sentence was recently confirmed in Bosnia. Glavaš can now appeal both that ruling and the decision to detain him. He will also be able to choose in which country to serve his jail time.
Milorad Pupovac of the Serb National Council in Croatia reacted to the news by saying that it was “now up to the Constitutional Court of Croatia to do what other courts have done,” and “not falter at this point, and in this case”.
Glavaš’s HDSSB party, meantime, denounced his arrest as an “expected consequence of the politically motivated and rigged process that was launched and conducted by the current Croatian authorities”.
The party said it would continue with the legal battle to prove his innocence, and that they had the support of a huge majority of Croats in this.
Glavaš fled Croatia in the spring of 2009, shortly before he was to hear the verdict.
He was tried and found guilty in two war crimes cases. In 1991, he ordered his unit to arrest, torture and kill seven Serb civilians in the town of Osijek. Their hands were tied and their mouths covered with duct tape before they were thrown into the Drava River.
He was also tried for the torture and murder of Čedomir Vučković and the torture of Đorđe Petrović in the garage of the Osijek Secretariat of Popular Defense, and institution he headed in 1991.
Glavaš is the first Croatian politician found guilty of committing war crimes.