Here’s some good news for humanity, but a real no-win for the neo-Ustashe and neo-Chetniks who plague this blog. The neo-Ustashe will be aghast that the proud defender of an ethnically-pure Croatia has been subjected to this indignity—or, the more hypocritical ones will be chagrined by the riots in their civilized, Euro-ready Croatia. The neo-Chetniks, in turn, will have still less plausibility to harp on their long-nourished gripe that the world is picking on the Serbs and giving the Croats a pass. We imagine both varieties of kneejerk extremists will become even more venemous upon being backed into a corner like this. Bring it on! Let the abuse hurl forth! From the Financial Mirror, Dec. 9:
Former Croat general Ante Gotovina, wanted by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY), was arrested in Spain yesterday, sparking riots in Zagreb among his nationalists supporters.
Croatian riot police used force and arrested several people.
Hundreds of demonstrators earlier threw stones at the building housing the Croatian government, which assisted in the arrest of general Ante Gotovina a day earlier in Spain.
Several people were reported injured and arrested when they resisted police. An increased presence of police in full riot gear was still visible late Thursday on the streets of Zagreb.
Gotovina, a former French legionnaire and mercenary, retired from the Croatian army in 2000 after earning a hero’s status in the 1991- 95 war for Croatia’s independence from Yugoslavia.
He became a fugitive a year later when the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) indicted in the deaths of Serb civilians and other atrocities committed by his troops.
The announcement of Gotovina’s arrest was made earlier Thursday in Belgrade by ICTY chief prosecutor Carla del Ponte. She expressed gratitude to Croatian authorities for contributing to his arrest on the Canary Islands.
Croatia’s EU accession talks were suspended in March 2005 because the government was judged not to have done enough to track the wanted man. However, in a backroom deal in October, Croatia started accession negotiations in return for Austria’s agreement to allow Turkey to start talks.
Prime Mininster Ivo Sanader said that the arrest affirmed Croatia’s policies, and that all those indicted by the ICTY must face justice. The Croatian Interior Ministry so far refused to confirm that it had helped track down Gotovina or what aid was provided.
Despite a decade of peace, the indictment and years in hiding, Gotovina, aged 50, who looked well and fit when he was arrested, remains one of the most popular figures in Croatia. Following his arrest, several veterans organizations from the 1991-95 war said that they would hold protests, expected to peak Sunday.