Published in Nacional number 548, 2006-05-15

Autor: Plamenko Cvitić


Secret of the massacre Seks must have known about

Branimir Glavas has indirectly accused Vladimir Seks Branimir Glavas has indirectly accused Vladimir Seks Nacional's reporters visited the village Sarvas near Osijek where a never-resolved mysterious crime against Serbian civilians occurred in 1991 and for which Branimir Glavas has indirectly accused Vladimir Seks
"It is well known who is responsible for the murder of the YNA reserve soldiers in the police courtyard, the massacre of seven Serbian civilians and two Croatian police officers on 1 August 1991 in Sarvas. The line of command for those murders does not lead to me by to my superiors, and that is why an investigation was banned then, as it is now,“ stated Branimir Glavas before the parliament on 10 May. This was the most serious accusation against Vladimir Seks, Speaker of the Parliament and Glavas' former friend. And this incident Glavas is referring to and which directly incriminates Seks, is the massacre of Serbian civilians in the Slavonian village Sarvas on 1 August 1991, committed by members of the Slavonian Convict's Brigade, a mysterious military group of criminals who traded long-term prison sentences for battle at the beginning of the war. Fifteen years have passed since the massacre, though no serious investigation has ever been committed to determine those responsible for the crime.
Last weekend, Nacional's reporters headed to Sarvas to learn what really happened on 1 August 1991. This village is about 10 kilometres east of Osijek, towards Erdut. Many of the current residents of the village lived there throughout the war, and many Serb refugees have since returned. When asked about what happened that tragic day, the residents just waved their arms and refused to tell. Some agreed to speak with us, but only anonymously. Until 1991, the village had about 1500 Croatian, 1000 Serbian and about 500 Hungarian residents. In mid summer 1991, Sarvas was the site of the easternmost Croatian control points, as only two kilometres further was the village Bijelo Brdo, which was held by the Serbs and YNA. In mid July 1991, the citizens of Osijek were overcome with panic due to the siege of Vukovar and the approach of rebel Serbs towards Osijek. On 31 August 1991, the rebels were close to taking Aljmas and Dalj and hundreds of Croats began to flee towards Osijek. Tensions were strong in Sarvas. According to S.G., a 64-year old resident, that evening a number of trucks and cars with Slavonski Brod registration plates carrying 50 armed man in unmarked camouflage uniforms drove into the town. “The armed men walked through the village, burst into homes on the excuse that they were looking for weapons, they were rude and arrogant and confronted the Vlado Cerina, a Croat who was head of the local crisis staff. These men were controlled by a young strict man who never said who he was,” commented an elderly woman.
The next morning, news on the fall of Aljmas and Dalj reached Osijek. According to the people Nacional spoke with, the unidentified men that had arrived the night before, launched a retaliation against about twenty elderly Serbs in the village. The next morning, Sarvas was filled with blood, the residents found their neighbours dead on their doorsteps, and some of the residents of Sarvas are still listed as missing. One day earlier, the head of the Osijek police sent two Osijek officers, 33 year-old Zdravko Pokrajac and 34 year old Milorad Djekic, on a routine patrol through the area, including Sarvas. Though Serbs, both men stressed their loyalty as Croatian citizens at the beginning of the war and were known as exceptionally professional and their Croatian colleagues were fond of them. During the day, someone in the police station noticed that the two officers had not returned and that they had not contacted anyone.
The following morning, the Osijek police went to Sarvas and came across the bodies of unknown victims. They did not find their colleagues among the corpses, but one resident confirmed that they had last been seen alive in Sarvas. For days, the missing police officers were the main topic of conversation among the Osijek police. There were suspicions that they had fled to join the enemy side. The truth was only uncovered several months later when the body of Milorad Djekic was found floating on the surface of the Danube River near Novi Sad in March 1992. His official identification was found in his pocket and the autopsy confirmed he was killed by a gunshot wound. One month later, the body of Zdravko Pokrajac surfaced in the Drava River near Osijek. Several gunshot wounds were found in his lower legs and several stab wounds on his body. Only then it became evident that the two men could only have been killed by someone on the Croatian side, that Pokrajac was taken from Sarvas to Osijek where he was killed and thrown into the river. The motive for the murder was never uncovered; some believe that they were witnesses to the murder of Serbian civilians in Sarvas, others that they will killed by armed soldiers due to their Serbian nationality.
The news of the murder of Serbian civilians in Sarvas spread throughout Osijek the following day and that evening, the mysterious group of soldiers left. According to some accounts, this group was a reserve unit from Slavonski Brod, which was supported by the vehicle registration plates. According to others, this was the Slavonian Convict’s Brigade of criminals who had traded in their prison sentences for battle. Investigations to date have only confirmed that the military group was never recorded and that there is no written record in the Osijek Command Staff of the arrival of backup from Slavonski Brod.
However, on the same day of the arrival of the mysterious soldiers, head of the Slavonia-Baranja crisis staff, Vladimir Seks, announced in an interview for Glas Slavonija that Croatia would soon launch a counter-attack on towards Aljmas and Dalj. “Though the Sarvas massacre has still not been resolved, it is impossible that the crisis staff had no knowledge of those soldiers. Do you think it’s possible that a group of fifty unknown soldiers comes to Osijek and then to Sarvas, and that the crisis staff has no idea who they are and where they’re from and where they’re going? It is possible that they were a special purpose unit, but then the head of the Slavonian crisis staff had to know who they were, as he coordinated the civil and military sector of Slavonia’s defence,” commented an Osijek man who was a member of the National Guard in 1991.
In 1996, the relatives of the victims filed charges suggesting who the possible perpetrators might be. For four years, there was no information on the course of the investigation and then on 11 July 2000, the Municipal Prosecutor’s Office and the County Court in Vukovar sent the complete file to the County Prosecutor’s Office in Osijek, which then continued with the case under number DO-K-49/2000. The police investigation never gave any results and on 22 October 2001, the Osijek County Prosecutor’s Office rejected the charges on the Sarvas massacre. Chronologically, three men could be held responsible for the Sarvas massacre: Franjo Cebic, commander of the Osijek defence; Franjo Pejic, assistant commander in the Slavonia-Baranja crisis staff and Vladimir Seks, commander of the crisis staff. Today, it is difficult to imagine that these three men were unaware of the arrival and actions of the mysterious military group in their territory and, if they were indeed unaware, they should answer whether they ever ordered an investigation into the crimes committed by this group. Considering that Franjo Cebic was killed in a traffic accident some ten years ago, and Franji Pejic died last December, the only person left to give the answer to that question is Vladimir Seks.

Even today, the precise number of civilian victims killed in the 1 August 1991 massacre in Sarvas is not known. According to the official records, ten bodies were found the next morning: Melanija Bojanić (born 1927), Dušan Bojanić (1950), Branka Bojanić (1952), Veselin Adamović (1944), Gospava Adamović (1949), Lazar Jerenić (1954), Zorka Petrović (1926), Svetislav Sandić (1939) and Dušan Milojević (1964). However, a large number of Sarvas victims floated to the surface of the Drava and Danube Rivers several months after the tragic event.
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