The Serbian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Monday sent protest notes to Croatia over the annulment of a war crimes verdict against former Croatian Interior Ministry official Branimir Glavas and the unveiling of a monument to Miro Baresic, a Croatian emigrant convicted in the 1970s in Sweden for the murder of a Yugoslav ambassador.
The Serbian ministry said that the decision by the Croatian Supreme Court to overturn the trial court verdict against Glavas for war crimes committed against Serb civilians in Osijek in the early 1990s and order a retrial was "inexplicable from both legal and moral points of view" and "aimed against the Serb people".
"The consequences of the verdict further aggravate and complicate the situation of the Serbs in Croatia," the ministry said, adding that the annulment of the verdict clearly showed that Croatia was rehabilitating not only the fascist Independent State of Croatia (1941-1945), but also criminals from the last war.
"The Ministry of Foreign Affairs expects Croatian judicial authorities to act upon the laws of Croatia in the retrial, taking into account the evidence based on which Glavas was found guilty by the trial court and the fact that the consequences of such and similar verdicts can considerably harm bilateral relations with Serbia and further aggravate the status of Serbs in Croatia," it said.
In the second protest note, prompted by the unveiling of a monument to Miro Baresic, a Croatian emigrant convicted in 1971 for the murder of the Yugoslav ambassador to Sweden, Vladimir Rolovic, the Serbian ministry said that it was "an inappropriate and uncivilisational act without precedent in modern Europe."
The Serbian ministry said it expected the Croatian government to "unequivocally distance itself from glorifying a convicted terrorist and assassin" and make it clear that it did not support terrorism. "Serbia expects this shameful monument to be removed."
Baresic returned to Croatia in 1991 and was killed in combat during the Homeland War. The monument in his honour was erected in his home town of Drage, between Sibenik and Zadar, by the Municipality of Pakostane and the Croatian Knight Miro Baresic Association.
The Serbian ministry said that the Croatian charge d'affaires to Belgrade, Stjepan Glas, refused to accept the two protest notes, but that they "were delivered in the regular manner, whereby the formal procedure was completed."