03.04.2008. / 12:50

Autor: Eduard Šoštarić


Americans unsettled by Korade affair

The US secret service asked their Croatian counterparts for the entire dossier on the Korade case and what they discovered has disconcerted them

On Saturday 29 March, US agents responsible for the security of US President George W. Bush during his visit to Croatia on 4 and 5 April spoke with Croatian police officials concerning the case of fugitive General Ivan Korade. With Croatian police unable to apprehend him three days into the search operation, launched on 26 March, the evaluation of US agents is that a lack of success in his capture could pose a serious security issue during the US President's visit.

All the more so because he is an experienced warrior who still has a strong influence among the soldiers he commanded and who are now ready to help him in any way they can. Not only have US agents for days now known of all Croatian police activity in the search for the fugitive general, but they have also asked for Ivan Korade's complete biography, his psychological profile, and a list of all the incidents he has been involved in the near and distant past. Given what they have had an opportunity to see, the Americans were quite disconcerted by the content of the documents they received, as he is a Croatian general, one of the heroes of the Homeland War, who not only showed a tendency to aggressive behaviour, fisticuffs and incidents, but who also once threatened to turn his tanks on Zagreb because of the possibility that he might be relieved of his duties as commander of the 7th Guards Brigade.

All of this has led to additional anxiety at the Croatian police department ahead of the US President's visit. There is significant fatigue among the police forces on the ground and there will be serious difficulties if Korade is not apprehended by Thursday. This does not concern only the US reaction, but the fact that over half the police force is involved in the search operation for General Korade, and those forces were to have been deployed in securing the route of the US President's convoy. If the search for Korade continues to be fruitless, they have warned that additional police officers will have to be brought up from southern Croatia for the US President's convoy route security, which will further escalate the cost of the Bush visit. With the mounting pressure from the US side, the pending arrival of the US President to Croatia, and the widespread interest of the Croatian public that light be shed on the heinous crimes committed in Croatia's Zagorje region and that the perpetrators be punished, five hundred armed members of the Croatian police special forces and regular police forces were under particular pressure to apprehend retired General Ivan Korade as soon as possible, Nacional has learned from sources close to the investigation. On the night from Saturday 29 to Sunday 30 March, Ivan Korade was recorded by a thermal vision camera walking in the woods on the Petrova gora highlands in the Zagorje region. That this was in fact Korade was confirmed by a detailed analysis of the recording, above all parts of the footage which show the constitution of the body, height, a characteristic walk and the armless left sleeve. And although there was speculation Sunday afternoon that Korade had slipped past police officers despite being recorded by the thermal vision camera, that is not the case. A high-ranking source in the police department told us that Korade was completely surrounded, and that the only reason that police officers did not intervene immediately were the possible casualties police forces could suffer, because Korade is heavily armed and psychologically very distraught, and it is presumed that he will not surrender peacefully, even though efforts are being made to bring that about.

The bloody drama that unfolded last week in the Zagorje region, when the general's friend Davor Petris, a former military police officer who served as Korade's adjutant, was killed in the settlement of Vitesinec, near the town of Ivanec, and when 62-year-old Cecilija Hudic, her grandson Goran Hudic and their 62-year-old neighbour Franjo Kos were killed in the village of Velika Veternicka, where Korade lives. This is the result of year's of alcohol abuse, arrogance and the destructive behaviour of the retired general who is suspected by Croatian police of committing all these murders, even thought they do not wish to say so publicly for tactical reasons. The prime motive in all of the murders committed is ruthless vengeance. It all started back on 17 August of 2007 when retired General Ivan Korade and his son Mario went on a crusade of vengeance on Varazdin's Pavlinska Street after Mario Korade allegedly got into an argument with his former waiters, now working in nearby cafés at the Coning business and commercial mall in downtown Varazdin. Mario Korade is the owner of the Majestic café located on the central square in Varazdin. Mario called his father, General Korade, who at one point drew a pistol, but the waiters and the security guards at the mall managed to knock the pistol from his hand and then pummelled him on the head, after which he was received at Zagreb's KBC Dubrava hospital with serious injuries were he underwent surgery to his upper jaw and cheekbone and was kept in hospital for treatment. Korade waited months to wreak his revenge.

To get revenge on the security guards that had battered him last year, according to unofficial police sources, Korade called on his close friend Davor Petris to locate them and bring them to him. Petris, however, did not manage to get the two security guards in question, but instead kidnapped the mother of one of the security guards in the Varazdinske Toplice area on 25 March in order to force her son to show up with his friend. The unfortunate woman somehow managed, half naked and bound, to escape from Petris, and then enter the hotel Terme's medical clinic in Varazdinske Toplice by breaking through the glass, where she was found by a night watchman on the night from 25 to 26 March. Petris later called Korade and told him what had transpired. When he heard from Petris that, instead of the two security guards, he had kidnapped the woman and let her escape, Korade was beside himself. They agreed to meet on Wednesday 26 March at a vineyard hut in Vitesinec near Ivanec owned by Davor Petris' father. It is presumed that Korade was accompanied by several of his friends.

It is possible that Petris threatened Korade that he would confess all to the police, because Korade did not provide enough protection the first time round when Petris was sentenced to seven years and nine months in prison for the murder of Momcilo Tulum from Varazdinske Toplice. It is presumed that Petris may also have been disappointed by the fact that Korade did not pay much heed to him while he was in prison, and may have said all sorts of things under the influence of alcohol, which would have further angered the retired general. These threats and the completely unnecessary kidnapping caused Korade to lose control, and both of Petris' arms and legs were broken, immediately after which he was liquidated with three gunshots to the head, bullets being fired through both eyes and the forehead. It remains unclear whether it was Korade that killed Petris or one of his friends and accomplices. For the moment it is known that all of the killed, including the three victims in the village of Velika Veternicka, where liquidated from a 9 mm calibre pistol, probably from a HS handgun the likes of which Korade possesses. Completely distraught and inebriated, Korade returned to his place in Velika Veternicka under cover of dark on the evening of 25 March and decided to wreak his vengeance on all those who had ever crossed him.

The first to fall was Franjo Kos, who was killed in revenge because he wounded General Korade with a knife in a 1987 brawl. The killer, besides firing gunshots into his body, plunged a knife into his throat. In the same house at the time of the liquidation of Franjo Kos was Franjo Knok, whom Korade's bullet only grazed, as Knok had fallen under the table were he, inebriated, fell asleep.

Immediately afterwards Korade also headed out to get his revenge at the house of Cilika Hudic, who had fallen afoul of him because she swore at him, which on that day was for Korade reason enough to liquidate her, while her grandson Goran Hudic was an unhappy witness of his grandmother's murder, and was also liquidated.

That the police immediately grasped that Korade was killing out of ruthless vengeance is also demonstrated by the fact that all of the potential victims from Korade's past, which whom he had had quarrels, were put under 24-hour police protection. Before the Homeland War, retired Lieutenant General Korade was a central heating installer. His wartime career started in early 1991 as a volunteer in the Police Special Forces. After the National Guard Corps were formed, he joined the 1st Guard Brigade, the Tigers, and in 1992 became the commander of the Tigers 5th battalion. He was seriously wounded in the summer of 1992 on the Dubrovnik front and lost an arm, but returned to his unit after only two weeks of treatment in hospital, which apparently impressed General Bobetko, then commander of the southern front, whom Korade has to thank for his promotion to the rank of general.

When the 7th Guards Brigade, the Pumas, were set up in late 1993, Korade became its first commander. Under his command the 7th Guards Brigade in 1994 and 1995 took part directly in military operations Winter 94, Jump 1 and 2 and Summer 95 in Bosnia & Herzegovina and then in the 1995 Operation Storm in Croatia, and immediately afterwards that same year in operations Maestral and Southern Stroke in Bosnia & Herzegovina. After the Homeland War he was in 1996 appointed the Commander of the Croatian Army 6th Military District in Varazdin. Immediately upon his return, the life of General Korade became increasingly luxurious.

A new two-storey house worth a million euro was built during the past decade, the Korade family currently has four registered automobiles, owns somewhat over a half hectare of additional land, woods, fish ponds and wooden cottages, all fenced in for deer hunting. It is no secret that earthworks on the land and around the house were done by the engineering corps of the 7th Guards Brigade from Varazdin. In downtown Varazdin, the Korade family owns the Majestic café, whose formal proprietor is Mario Korade. It is hard to believe that General Korade has managed to build a family empire worth several million euro on his pension, which could be at most 12 thousand kuna a month.

25. 3. 2008.

The Petris murder

Davor Petris, Korade's close friend, was given the job of locating the security guards that battered the general. Instead he kidnapped one of their mothers, who succeeded in escaping. The next day he paid dearly: both his arms and legs were broken before being shot in the head three times.