Saturday, 24 April 2010

Dragan Vasiljkovic linked to Serb war criminals

Dragan Vasiljkovic linked to Serb war criminals

* Natasha Robinson
* From: The Australian
* April 17, 2010 12:00AM

SECRET intelligence reports on the activities of "Captain Dragan" Vasiljkovic in Bosnia and Croatia's eastern Slavonia region during the Balkans wars have exposed alleged links between the former Perth golf instructor and Serb war criminals Arkan and Radovan Karadzic.

Australian Federal Police are hunting the Belgrade-born Australian citizen, who commanded a paramilitary unit in the Balkans in the early 1990s and is wanted for questioning in Croatia for alleged war crimes.

Mr Vasiljkovic went missing in Canberra two weeks ago after the High Court cleared his extradition to Croatia, following numerous legal challenges launched after The Australian revealed in 2005 that the former paramilitary leader was living in Perth and working as a golf instructor.

Military intelligence reports filed in the case of Jovica Stanisic and Franko Simatovic, on trial at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, have alleged that Mr Vasiljkovic regularly
visited a training camp at Erdut, in eastern Slavonia, commanded by war criminal Zeljko Razjnatovic, known as Arkan.

According to a confidential report by Major-General Mile Babic on October 25, 1991, Mr Vasiljkovic was involved in the training of Arkan's "Tigers", a paramilitary unit that carried out ethnic cleansing in Bosnia during the Balkans conflict.

"The training centre at Erdut was established with the significant support of the Serbian DB (Interior Ministry)," the report says. "Dragan Vasiljkovic would participate in the training of men there.
The training centre was also used as a detention facility where Arkan and his men brutalised and killed non-Serb detainees before disposing of their bodies in various sites at the area."

It is not suggested that Mr Vasiljkovic, who denies all war crimes allegations, was involved in the murders that occurred at the Erdut training camp.

A report compiled by intelligence analysts at The Hague's Office of the Prosecutor states that on one occasion, Mr Vasiljkovic was observed using a Muslim man as a live target during training exercises
at Erdut.

The Bosnian government is probing Mr Vasiljkovic's activities on the Bosnian territories in the former Yugoslavia during the early 1990s. The probe is additional to a separate Croation investigation into alleged war crimes committed in 1991-93.

Mr Vasiljkovic has previously denied he spent any significant period of time in Bosnia - where he is alleged to have repeatedly raped a Bosnian woman at a hotel in Zvornik - saying he only ever visited the region for two days in late May and for a few hours on June 7. "These are the only times I have ever been in Zvornik," he told a NSW Supreme Court hearing last year.

However, The Weekend Australian has established that several witnesses who gave evidence in various war crimes trials at The Hague have alleged Mr Vasiljkovic and his men were stationed at the Hotel Vidikovac near Zvornik - the same hotel where the Bosnian woman alleges she was raped.

One report written by Bosnian military commander Dragutin Ilic on June 7, 1992, said: "Captain Dragan reportedly stated that `he has the support of the President, Radovan Karadzic and other ministers in the government of the RS (Repulica Srpska)' " in setting up the Divic training camp, which was shut down later that year and Mr Vasiljkovic expelled.
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