War Criminal Lectures Croatian Students on Religious Faith
Anja Vladisavljevic | Zagreb | BIRN | April 3, 2019
Bosnian Croat Hague Tribunal convict Dario Kordic gave a speech at a student residence in Zagreb about his years in prison and his religious beliefs, while some protesters tried to disrupt the event by chanting that he was a war criminal.
Dario Kordic, a former military commander in the self-proclaimed Croatian Republic of Herzeg-Bosnia wartime statelet and a convicted war criminal, gave a talk about his Christian faith to students of religion in Zagreb on Tuesday evening.
The lecture, entitled God Behind Bars’, was held in the cinema hall of the Stjepan Radic student residence and organised by students’ associations, a religious association and a Herzegovinian students’ club.
The event began with a religious song sung by the audience along with Kordic, who held a rosary in his hands throughout the event.
One student introduced Kordic and said that the topic of the gathering would not be “the Orwellian international judiciary and its concept of justice” but “the testimony of a man who has borne the burden of living for his ideals”.
However some protesting students tried to disrupt the event by chanting “war criminal” at Kordic, before men from the audience threw them out of the hall and took away the banner that they planned to hold up.
But the protesters did manage to hang a banner with the words “Dario Koljac [Dario the Butcher]” on the student dormitory’s balcony.
Kordic reacted calmly to the disruption, saying that there are people who are bothered by God’s love.
“You’ve probably seen that in recent months and years, ugly, unfounded articles about me [were published], 25 years after the events of the war,” Kordic said.
“Forgive them, father, for they know not what they do,” he added, using a phrase attributed to Jesus in the Bible.
Kordic, a former Croatian Defence Council commander, was convicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia of planning and instigating killings in the village of Ahmici and neighbouring hamlets in April 1993 and ethnically cleansing the area.
He was released in 2014 after serving two-thirds of his 25-year sentence.
He told the students in Zagreb on Tuesday that he maintained his devotion to God during the war and throughout his years in prison.
“I was in the hands of the Lord, and in my pocket I had my rosary,” he said.
The Croatian Defence Council, which was backed by Croatia, attacked the village of Ahmici in Bosnia and Herzegovina on April 16, 1993, killing more than 100 civilians, mostly women and children. The youngest victim was three months old and the oldest was 82.
Some people were buried alive in their houses, while the local mosque was destroyed.
Judgments handed down by the Hague Tribunal have said that Herzeg-Bosnia was founded with the intention of splitting the territory from Bosnia and Herzegovina and uniting it with a Greater Croatia’.