General Raseta – Holed-up in Croatia

Globus (Zagreb) – 06-12-1991

When Croatia unilaterally declared its intention to seek independence from Yugoslavia in August 1991, war broke out between the new Republic of Croatia and old Yugoslav National Army (JNA). Throughout the autumn and winter of 1991-92 Croat forces (and militias such as the HVO) attempted to liberate JNA/Serb-occupied portions of their country and fierce fighting took place in Eastern Slavonia, Dubrovnik, parts of the Dalmatian coast and areas around the enclave of Bihac. Thousands were killed or injured, many made homeless and colossal destruction occurred on all fronts. The JNA claimed that it represented the legitimate government and that, far from 'occupying' a third of Croatia, it was merely protecting Serb communities who were being threatened, persecuted or driven out of their homes and jobs by Croats. The Croats claimed that they were repelling an invader and defending themselves from a Serb-dominated JNA which was pursuing a 'Greater Serbia' plan. Neither side was prepared to admit that their agendas included re-drawing national borders and that they were preparing to carve up neighbouring Bosnia between themselves in a few months' time.

General Raseta was the JNA commander responsible for Yugoslav troops 'occupying' parts of central and eastern Croatia in 1991. Eventually he found himself alone and trapped in Zagreb – within Croatia – where he sought sanctuary in the New Military Hospital in Zagreb. For reasons that remain obscure, Croatia's new president, Franjo Tudjman, was content to allow him to remain there in peace and comfort, surrounded by his Croat 'enemies'. This was despite the fact that he was by now widely held responsible for deliberate bombardments and military assaults on Croat civilians and faced allegations of having committed 'atrocities'.

Christopher Long (Evening Standard) and Cathy Jenkyns (BBC) had little difficulty in penetrating the 'Serb-held' New Military Hospital in Zagreb where they challenged Raseta to acknowledge the allegations being made against him.

By Christopher Long

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This article has yet to be transcribed from sound tapes and translated from the original Serbo-Croat in which it appeared in Globus, the author having lost his original article in English!

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