The evidence trail concerning the murder of the Mihajlo Zec family, Croatian Serbs from Zagreb who were killed in December 1991, led directly Tomislav Mercep’s police unit, Antun Gugic testified on Tuesday.At the war crimes trial of Tomislav Mercep, a top advisor in the Croatian wartime Interior ministry, Gugic, who led the murder investigation, said that “the trail led to the Interior ministry“.
Mihajlo Zec was killed on December 7, 1991 in Zagreb. His wife Marija and his 12 years daughter Aleksandra were killed the same night in a wood near Zagreb.
The murder is considered by many to be one of the cruellest war crimes committed by Croatian forces. The family was murdered in cold blood far from the frontline. Aleksandra Zec was shot in the head.
Nobody was ever prosecuted for the crime.
Gugic said in his testimony that he sent an inspector to interrogate Mercep after the investigation showed that members of his police unit were implicated in the crime.
But he was then told that the Croatian secret service, SZUP, was also investigating Mercep, and that police had to leave the investigation them.
“I could not accept this“, Gugic said, adding however that “there was no political pressure put on the police“.
The former Croatian army chief of staff, Anton Tus, also testified on Tuesday. He said that “members of the “Mercepovci” unit came and left the battlefield as they pleased“.
Military reports warned of “problematic behaviour” within Mercep’s unit, Tus said.
Mercep’s unit refused to join the Croatian breakthrough to Vukovar, which was being besieged by the Yugoslav People’s Army, JNA, Tus claimed.
Tomislav Mercep was charged with personally ordering the unlawful capture, torture and killing of civilians from October 8, 1991 until mid-December of the same year in and around Zagreb, and also Kutina and Pakrac in central Croatia.
According to the indictment, his police unit illegally captured 52 people, killing 43 of them, while three dissapeared and six survived torture.
The trial continues on October 24.