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December 11, 1995
. Vreme News Digest Agency No 219
The General Trifunovic Case

Reactions/ Uglier Than The Drayfus Affair

I want to join the appeal for the release of the innocently sentenced officers in the so-called Varazdin Process. I know the case very well. I read almost all the transcripts. I followed part of the trials directly, especially the third which was prepared earlier (even in terms of personnel) for a sentence at any cost. To me this is more than a Drayfus affair. This is much uglier. French army Major Drayfus was sentenced over 100 years ago and then (under pressure from the progressive and educated public) first partly and then completely released, reinstated and retired as a colonel.

Here things are different: the general and his staff were acquitted twice and then sentenced the third time around. The sentence was preceded by the meeting with all military judges and prosecutors after the second acquittal with the voiced threat that one man was carrying a grenade in his bag in case he runs into the general!

Why the pardon then?! A pardon is for the guilty not the innocent. What is there to forgive the innocent?! That pardon would be a reward to men for their evil deeds and the final blow to the innocently sentenced. If that is the only way to save these suffering men then say that out loud. But the judiciary has not said its final word. The case is being considered by the Federal Supreme Court.

Ljubomir Milin

Novi Beograd


Freedom For the Innocent


The council of Republika monthly at its meeting of November 27 unanimously decided to support the VREME initiative for the release of General Vlada Trifunovic. We would like to express our satisfaction that your weekly, along with other organizations and individuals in Serbia, is persistent in the determination for the consistent defence of human rights and the principles of law.

The trial and sentence of General Vlada Trifunovic are a dark spot on our judiciary which, under constant pressure from the authorities, is subject to serious moral erosion. In the sentence passed on Trifunovic who saved the lives of several hundred young soldiers and spared the civilian population from destruction, shows another attempt by unscrupulous power holders to transfer the blame from themselves to the innocent. In the time whent first trials are underway in the Hague, when we hope much of the truth will surface, we are sure that this rewriting of history and attack on individuals won't survive for long. Our organized effort to prevent that could be decisive in speeding up the course of events.

We expect your initiatives to disturb many consciences and stimulate an even more powerful action to help General Trifunovic.

The Republika council: Mirko Tepavac, Zagorka Golubovic, Emin Zulfikarpasic, Dragan Popoadic, Nebojsa Popov (editor in chief), Aleksandar Nenadovic, Milica Lucic, Ljuba Tadic, Olivija rusovac, Aleksandra Posarac, Ljubomir Madzar, Milan Podunavac, Ivan Colovic, Milan Prodanovic and Dragos Ivanovi (chairman).


Shame on the Judiciary

The imprisonment of Vlada Trifunovic is the result of the hypocrisy of the regime in Serbia, shame for judiciary and a portrait of the overall situation in society and the state. Everyone who fought against the war and hatred here are either in jail, are socially isolated, abroad or dead and the warriors and war mongers are in power today receiving praise.

It's not by accident that the bomb others deserved was aimed at Kiro Gligorov, the only politician in former Yugoslavia who preserved peace in his state.

As long as Vlada Trifunovic is in jail and isn't rehabilitated he and other authentic fighters for peace, the signatures in Dayton are fake and forced. for them to become true, for true peace to come, Trifunovic has to be released. Only then will we be free.

Danica Draskovic


Refusing to Commit Crime


The fact that he didn't order a fierce bombardment of the town, as the court ruling suggests, should serve as an honor to General Trifunovic not be the basis for his guilt since that was an act that showed refusal to commit war crimes which he would have to answer for.

The situation was that General Trifunovic Corps was cut off in the fall of 1991, blocked by organized Croatian armed units and reduced to 400 recruits who couldn't handle weapons. That unit was sacrificed with no military reasoning, with no security or basic contacts with its command. It suffered defeat just as the entire JNA suffered defeat but that defeat is hardly the blame of the accused. The real basis of this court marital is a tale of military defeat.

It's strange that it insisted on passing sentence for heroism and sacrifice. The impression is that the accused are charged with not sacrificing themselves and their soldiers until they all died. Perhaps that is conceivable but that is not included in criminal law and has nothing to do with criminal accountability. The refusal to agree to sacrifice is not part of any criminal code.

(Part of the analysis by the Fund for Humanitarian Law)

Retarded and Normal

I remember the main evening news on TV Belgrade: a retarded Presidency congratulates retarded military chiefs on retarding Vukovar. Those people can't be asked for mercy since had they known of mercy all this would not have happened. They only have to be reminded that the day will come when they will answer for their crimes regardless of their mental state. Perhaps they will come up with come mitigating circumstances in the meantime, for example demobilizing those three unfortunate officers from jail since their only guilt was being normal.

Branko Baletic

Film director

Non-existent Enemy

The ruling by the supreme military tribunal in June 1995 which confirmed the general's seven year jail sentence is an illustration of the belief that the military judiciary compared to the judiciary is the same as military music compared to music. That's because the same Supreme Military Tribunal annulled two rulings which acquitted General Trifunovic although those rulings were legally better than the third which sent him to jail.

General Trifunovic was charged with "undermining the military and defence capacities of the state" under article 121. That is not a military but a political act since it belongs to chapter XV which covers political acts against the state. Crimes from article 121 can only be premeditated; showing an intention to hand over materiel to the enemy. However, since Yugoslavia was not at war at any moment - and the enemy in article 121 can only be a member of hostile armed forces at war with Yugoslavia - the conclusion is that there was no enemy to hand equipment to.

In other words, the charges could only result in acquittal.

Ivan Jankovic

(Criminal Law expert)

Serbian Drayfus

Vlada Trifunovic is in prison because he did not want the state to break up or a drunken and dirty war, or unnecessary graves, defeat and shame.

He was imprisoned by everyone who wanted just that.

While that Serbian Drayfus is in jail Serbia will be in jail both spiritually and morally.

Where are the Zolas of Serbia to defend its Drayfus? There aren't many of them and their voice does not reach far.

There can be no renewal, no Europe in Serbia, no hope as long as that is so.

Vuk Draskovic

(Serbian Renewal Movement leader)

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