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Australia/Croatia: Former Serbian Commander Indicted

(Jan. 15, 2016) On January 8, 2016, Croatian authorities indicted Dragan Vasiljkovic on charges that he committed war crimes. Vasiljkovic was a Serbian paramilitary commander during the 1991-1995 war in the former Yugoslavia by which Croatia gained its independence. He is accused of torturing and killing Croatian soldiers and police officers; of ordering the executions of prisoners of war; and of leading an attack on the village of Glina, resulting in civilian deaths. (Bradley McAllister, Former Serbian Commander Indicted for War Crimes in Croatia, PAPER CHASE (Jan. 11, 2016); Ina Vukic, Indicted Serb War Criminal Dragan Vasiljkovic Loses Final Battle Against Extradition To Croatia, CROATIA, THE WAR, AND THE FUTURE (Dec. 17, 2014).)

Vasiljkovic is reportedly the first Australian ever extradited for war crimes. He was sent to Croatia on July 8, 2015. (Australian Dragan Vasiljkovic Extradited to Croatia on War Crimes Charges, GUARDIAN (July 8, 2015).)

Background

Under the name Daniel Snedden, Vasiljkovic now holds Australian as well as Serbian citizenship. (Id.) He had been arrested initially in Australia in 2006 after Croatia requested that he be sent back for trial; during more than eight years in Australian prisons, he legally challenged extradition requests numerous times, claiming that any trial he would have in Croatia could not be fair. (McAllister, supra; Daniel Mullen, Australia Approves Extradition of Alleged Serbian War Criminal, PAPER CHASE (Nov. 19, 2012); Vukic, supra.)

Applicable Australian Law

Extradition from Australia is governed by the Extradition Act (Extradition Act 1988 (Cth) pt 22, COMLAW) and by a number of specific regulations adopted in connection with the Act (Extradition Act 1988: Enables, COMLAW.) In 2004, Australia adopted a specific regulation declaring Croatia to be a country to which persons could be extradited. (Extradition (Croatia) Regulations 2004 (Cth), COMLAW (click on link for pdf of the text).)