From a travelogue last October:
Danger In Croatia
by Jonathan Dudley
Remember a few weeks ago I wrote about my favourite coaster? Well today I’m going to share another of my personal ride experiences with you, this one ever so slightly less positive.
Allow me to set the scene for you.
In his infinite wisdom my father had decided that a family holiday to Croatia was in order. Yes, Croatia. I have literally no idea what possessed him to take us to a country I swear was the inspiration for Dante’s Inferno. A country that had been locked in a bloody war so recently I swear I saw bullet holes in the hotel, but hey, I guess it was cheap.
I would love to say the hotel had the air of a building that had once been great and had entered a kind of genteel decay, but it was just decayed. Hot water only came if the taps were in the mood to provide it, food was simply horrific, there was not a decent pizza or coffee to be found in the entire place.
Perhaps sensing that I was somewhat disappointed with Croatia (but by no means ungrateful) my father took me to what appeared to be a cross between a fun fair and an actual theme park. Some seriously shady looking coasters rattled along their disconcertingly rickety tracks. Swarthy men beckoned us towards various unwinnable games of chance. It was night-time, so the whole place was lit with a combination of builder’s spotlights and fairy-lights attached to every available surface.
The centrepiece of this distinctly ghetto theme park was a “bungee catapult”. This consisted of a large spherical cage with two seats inside, a great deal of strapping, what appeared to be two cranes and two massive bungee cords. The cage was attached to the cords and cranes, stretched downwards and attached to a massive hook. I was ushered into the sphere, strapped down like some kind of mental patient and there I sat, waiting.
As I waited to be flung skywards I looked to my right, the bungee cords were frayed — badly. I waited for a moment, thought about saying something and eventually summoned up the courage to point out the obvious safety flaw to the ride’s attendant. It quickly became apparent that he didn’t speak English and took my pointing at the cord to be excitement. After a “reassuring” toothless smile and a thumbs up from the blissfully ignorant attendant I was released and flung upwards with what felt like 100G’s pressing against my chest.
While bouncing I realised that I was in fact on a beach, should the cords have snapped I would have been pitched into the sea in the dead of night with not a coast guard in sight. My worries quickly disappeared as a monumental adrenaline rush flooded my bloodstream. Despite the huge safety issues the whole experience was actually quite a lot of fun. I’d not recommend it, but it was certainly a buzz.
Oh and what did my father (who incidentally didn’t join me on the ride) have to say when I eventually stopped vibrating and told him about the bungee: “you’re alive aren’t you? Stop being a poofter”……it’s a miracle I ended up so well adjusted…
Here’s another kind of ride that’s not recommended:
U.S. Bans all Croatian Airlines
The US aviation authority has put Croatia on a black list of countries whose airlines do not meet its safety standards.
The decision was made by the US Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) following its first assessment of Croatia.
The country was given a Category 2 rating – meaning a Croatian airline would not be permitted to operate to the US.
There are currently 18 countries with Category 2 status, including Swaziland, Uruguay, Indonesia and the Gambia.
Currently no airline operates between the two countries, and until Croatia achieves Category 1 status, its airlines are unable to commence transatlantic flights. […]
A different kind of danger in Croatia emerged late last year as well, when news came out of an Australian girl gone missing while backpacking through Croatia. There’s nothing distinctly Croatian in this, as it happens everywhere, but there is something distinctly Croatian about the condition in which her body was found :
DALE Lapthorne won’t rest until he knows the truth about what happened to his daughter.
The shattered Victorian father is convinced his daughter Britt is the victim of a “heinous crime of the worst order”.
Mr Lapthorne is struggling not only with Britt’s death, but with the knowledge of the horrific state of her body.
The shocking facts, as told to Mr Lapthorne, are that the 21-year-old backpacker was found with her legs and an arm missing, and most of her teeth and hair gone.
“Britt did not jump off a cliff and cut her legs off on the way down and do something else to decompose herself,” the devastated father said yesterday.
“There’s foul play at least.”
Britt had been missing for 18 days when her body was found in the Bay of Boninovo, Croatia, a short distance from cliffs that have a sheer drop of at least 60m.
Mr Lapthorne suspects she may have been murdered elsewhere, then butchered and doused in accelerant to cover up the crime before being dumped at sea.
Police have refused to say whether they believe Britt had been murdered or died accidentally.
As investigations continued, there were reports Britt’s T-shirt may have been discovered on the outskirts of Dubrovnik.
Police said there yesterday were “no clear indications” it belonged to Britt.
Mr Lapthorne said he would not rest until he knew what happened.
“There are a number of questions I need to ask,” he said.
“Britt’s body was in a bad state of decomposition. Why?
“These are gruesome things, and horrible for a parent to realise, but they’re questions I want answered through an autopsy.”
When he asked investigators why the body was so decomposed, he was told it was because “the water is warm”.
“I said that’s rubbish, that’s a rubbish answer. And don’t take me as stupid,” Mr Lapthorne said.
Also strange was that his daughter’s body had also managed to go unnoticed in a popular area for so long.
“Cruise boats going past, helicopters flying over. She jumped off a cliff in Dubrovnik and has sat there for 18 days? Something is wrong. I can smell a rat.”
An autopsy later today should be able to confirm or rule out his fears. […]
Even the Financial Times printed a column late last year giving the EU a warning that a sun-drenched coast does not a country make:
Croatia likes to be seen as a sun-kissed holiday destination, with beaches, fishing villages and sailing boats. But this week’s car bombing in the centre of Zagreb is a sharp reminder that Croatia has a dark side so dangerous that it threatens to destabilise the whole country.
In the latest spate of violence blamed on the local mafia, Ivo Pukanic, a well-known journalist, and a colleague were killed by a car bomb outside the offices of their magazine, a campaigning journal that has often exposed crime. The outrage followed the recent shooting of Ivana Hodak, the daughter of a top lawyer, and assaults on a prominent crime reporter, a Zagreb city official, and the head of a construction company.
Pukanic, who had alleged links to the mafia, was not the cleanest journalist in the Balkans. But that is beside the point. Nobody should face extrajudicial execution, especially not in a country hoping to join the European Union.
Ivo Sanader, prime minister, condemned the car bombing saying, “I shall not allow Croatia to become another Beirut. This is no longer a fight against organised crime. This is something all of us in Croatia will rise up against.”
He must deliver on his pledge. For too long, the authorities have dragged their feet over fighting crime. Newspapers have often published allegations of links between criminals, businessmen and politicians. But the authorities have not responded effectively. Under public pressure, Mr Sanader this month finally replaced his justice and interior ministers after Ms Hodak’s killing. Now, the authorities must launch a real crackdown on crime.
Serbia managed it after the 2003 shooting of Zoran Djindjic, the late prime minister. If Belgrade could act in far more fragile political conditions than Croatia’s, Zagreb must follow suit.
The EU, which sees Croatia as its next accession candidate, must ensure Zagreb transforms its record on fighting crime well before it actually enters the union. The embarrassing example of Bulgaria, which joined the EU before the job was done, should make Brussels take extra care with its future members in the western Balkans. If that means making Croatia wait, then Croatia must wait. Sunshine alone is not a protection against crime. Just ask the Sicilians.
Meanwhile, some updates on the Britt investigation — if it can be called such, given that we’re talking about Croatia (Feb 8th):
…[Another] woman has told how men in a blue van — which could have links to Britt’s disappearance — almost abducted her off the street after she had been to the same nightclub where Britt was last seen alive, the Fuego Club, in Dubrovnik’s old town.
The explosive new findings show two women — an American and an Australian — have identified the same man as being involved in separate abduction attempts on them.
New Yorker Jennifer Blanchard told of a late-night incident 10 days after Britt vanished, while she was outside Fuego nightclub with friends.
Two men — one short and one tall — tried to chat her up and when she refused their advances they flashed an ID card and tried to arrest her.
It is understood other women have also told police they were approached by men who claimed to be undercover officers.
Ms Blanchard did not make a report to Dubrovnik police, saying she distrusted them from other encounters with local officers.
The petite blonde, similar in looks to Britt, prepared a composite sketch of the shorter man with the help of American forensic artist Steve Mancusi. When shown the finished image, she said it was “strikingly similar'’ to her attacker.
The image was then shown to another victim, an Australian backpacker identified only as Kate, who was visibly shocked and confirmed the same man was involved in her attack.
About a year before Britt vanished, Kate met “a tall man and a short man'’ who bought her rounds of tequilas at Fuego nightclub.
She “foolishly'’ accepted a lift from the men in a taxi, which one of them drove, but she became “petrified'’ when they silently started heading to the town’s outskirts.
“I knew that there was something terribly wrong. I jumped out of the car while it was still moving,'’ she said.
The men pursued her as she ran screaming down the street, only leaving when a female security guard helped her call the police.
A Dubrovnik police officer at first denied to the program that there had been any previous abductions or attempted abductions in the town.
Confronted by a medical report confirming that Kate did go to police, he admitted he was aware of two incidents.
A third woman will also reveal how a group of men in a blue van tried to snatch her from the street, just five days before Britt vanished.
The Australian woman, who had been at the same nightclub where Britt was last seen, has prepared a second sketch and will make stunning claims about the identity of the men.
It is understood that evidence will also be revealed that potentially links a blue van to Britt’s death.
“I heard a car accelerate and I turned around and saw a blue van with two men in the front seat and a man hanging out the side sliding door, coming towards me,'’ says the woman, identified only as Amber.
“I have never run so fast or screamed so loud in my life.'’
Amber informed the Australian Federal Police of the incident after Britt’s death and a report was forwarded on to Croatia.
Autopsies in Croatia and Australia could not determine a cause of death for Britt and an on-going police investigation appears no closer to solving the case.
Britt’s devastated parents, Dale and Elke, last night called on Croatian police to thoroughly investigate the new leads.
“This is opening up areas the Dubrovnik police have not even looked at. For us this is extremely significant,'’ Mr Lapthorne told the Sunday Herald Sun.
“I do not want to hear any more that Dubrovnik is crime free, this just blows away that myth.'’
Sunday Night journalist Ross Coulthart last night said: “We believe very strongly that there are past attempted abductions of foreign female backpackers in Dubrovnik that should have been very aggressively investigated by Croatian police and they were not.'’
Dale Lapthorne: Croatian Police Ignore Evidence
…Britt’s father Dale…said that they were frustrated due to the procedures by Dubrovnik’s police who are ignoring the other crimes and evidence of the whole case.
He added that the Croatian police want to show Britt’s death as an unfortunate accident.
Dale mentioned that Dubrovnik’s police keep on mentioning the autopsy results. He said that the autopsy did not show that Britt was not killed, and that nothing was proven. The autopsy did not manage to reveal the cause of death. Dale said that he cannot understand how the police can keep giving such statements.
Dale concluded that the Croatian police do not want to know exactly what happened to Britt.
He said that Dubrovnik’s police should firstly protect the tourists.
Dale said that normal young people are now afraid to visit Dubrovnik after all of this, and that the police can fix that only if they protect tourists.
Britt’s father voiced his gratitude for the support from the Croatian and Australian media.
We tried to contact the Dubrovnik police, but nobody answered the telephone all morning.
However, at around 1pm an announcement arrived from Zlatko Sokolar, the head of the Dubrovnik-Neretva police department. They repeated that the case of Britt Lapthorne’s death is still open, and that cooperation with Interpol is continuing, as well as the bilateral cooperation of the police with certain countries.
The report states that up until now, the police have every notice or information that they have received aimed at solving the circumstances of her death.
“Only after a detailed study of the Channel 7 documentary, and new information, we will be able to say more” it says in the report.
A few days ago they said that they have no new evidence and that they cannot speak about a suspect because the autopsy did not show the cause of Britt Lapthorne’s death.
The police spokesman quoted above is “head of the Dubovnik-Neretva Police Dept.” This is starting to come together. Let’s recall that the Neretva River was teeming with dismembered and gutted Serbian bodies (though some were tossed in still alive) during WWII, and Croatians still sing about those glory days today.
Well, what can we say about Croatia. When an entire population has a taste for blood and still takes pride in its Hitler-bestowed independent state, there won’t seem to be anything strange about that taste morphing into what the rest of the world considers criminal behavior — hence the lackadaisical attitude toward crime in Croatia. The poor, suppressed Ustashe need an outlet for their bloodlust. So let the old boys have a Westerner or a few — being abducted and hacked to pieces is just part of the authentic Croatian vacation experience. Come one, come all! Welcome to the new EU!
Oh wait a second, this may help explain the tortoise-like pace and minimal interest by Croatian police:
Men in Lapthorne sketches are police
TWO men depicted in forensic sketches and linked to the Britt Lapthorne investigation have been identified as Croatian police officers.
Dubrovnik police revealed the identity of the men at a press conference called to address new claims made in a Seven Network report about Ms Lapthorne’s death in the Croatian city.
Dubrovnik police spokesman Krunislav Borovec confirmed the men in the sketches were police officers.
But he said they were “very good quality'’ policemen who did not harass or rob foreign tourists. [That’s all it takes to be a “good quality” policeman in Croatia: refraining from robbing or harassing tourists. Of course, you don’t need to rob a tourist if you’re taking the whole person with you.]
Mr Borovec denied gangs of men were involved in attempted abductions targeting women in Dubrovnik.
“There are no groups that rob girls,'’ he told Croatian reporters.
One of the three women interviewed by Seven, identified as Amber, said a group of men armed with guns yelled ‘police’ as they attempted to abduct her as she walked back to her cruise ship from Club Fuego.
She said the attempt failed and she ran, screaming but moments later “men just started coming out of nowhere, five, might have been seven'’.
“They were yelling ‘police, police’ and they told me to go with them. But when I looked up I knew that the main man that was yelling ‘police’ was the same man who was hanging out of the van and I knew that we were in trouble.'’
Amber said she faked an asthma attack and the men fled.
Of the Lapthorne case she said: “Now that I know what I know, I’m pretty confident that they were the same people.'’
New York woman Jennifer told Seven she and two friends were outside Club Fuego 10 days after Ms Lapthorne disappeared when two men - one short, one tall - approached and tried to chat her up.
She rejected them but they approached her again inside the club.
“These guys just came up and said ‘hey you’re under arrest’.
‘’(They) showed me what looked like a badge and put it back in really quickly.'’
Jennifer said the men beat up her friend to stop her getting away but ultimately left the club in a waiting taxi with several other men.
“We all felt like it was very, very organised,'’ she said, adding that she had no doubt the men were a threat to her. […]
Hm. Organized. Kidnapping. Death. Possible torture. Dismemberment. I think I saw this movie and it was called “Hostel.” Again, my advice to director/writer Eli Roth: Tell your location scout to check out Croatia.
More evidence as to why the investigation has been “lagging”:
THE mother of a Slovenian woman found dead in Croatia believes the case is linked to that of Australian traveller Britt Lapthorne.
And like the Lapthorne case, those close to 35-year-old Irena Mlakar accuse police of failing to properly investigate her death, and suspect police may have had something to do with it.
Irena’s body was found in August 2007 on Krk Island, a tourist spot about 570km north of Dubrovnik, where Britt’s body was found in October last year, three weeks after she disappeared.
Irena’s mother Stasa Mlakar has told the Slovenian newspaper Delo: “It seems that the death of my daughter and the Australian Britt Lapthorne, who died in Croatia last year, are linked”.
“There are many similarities because both were found three weeks after disappearing, both were identified via DNA, and the autopsy did not reveal the cause of their death.”
Friends, who were on holiday with Irena when she disappeared and began their own hunt for the missing woman, told Delo they believed police were watching them.
Officers wanted to stop them from finding out anything about the disappearance, one unnamed friend told Delo.
A retired criminologist, also unnamed, who joined the search, said police were involved, but did not offer any evidence.
Finally, we have another death, by different culprits, but very similar layout — making abduction, death, and under-water as the ultimate destination — par for the course in a Croatian vacation:
A BRITISH mum has told of the startling similarities between her son’s murder and the death of Melbourne backpacker Britt Lapthorne.
Grace Rushton was stunned to learn Ms Lapthorne had died in almost identical circumstances.
Son Peter, 30, was on holiday in Croatia in October 2005 when he vanished during a night out.
His body was found at sea several weeks later, but just as in Ms Lapthorne’s case Croatian authorities said the remains were too badly decomposed to be his.
“When I heard about the Australian girl, I couldn’t believe it. It was identical,” Ms Rushton said.
Her daughter raised the alarm when Peter did not return home to Bournemouth, southern England, a week after his departure.
His belongings, including his passport, were still in his hotel room. He had gone out on a Friday night and had not returned.
Like the Lapthornes, Ms Rushton and her daughter flew to Croatia to meet police and launch a public appeal to find him. But his body was already in a morgue.
A fisherman had discovered his remains, but a coroner wrongly stated the body had been in the water for at least 10 months.
Ms Rushton said: “We kept asking ‘Are you sure it’s not Peter?’ but he was sure.” Police only identified Peter after a Croatian teenager, racked with guilt, admitted being involved in Mr Rushton’s death.
It emerged he had been drinking with a group of locals at his resort when he was bashed, stripped, and stuffed into a sack filled with lead weights. At night, he was loaded onto a boat and dumped at sea.
Two men were later jailed for 15 years and 12 years for his murder.
Britt Lapthorne vanished from Dubrovnik’s Fuego nightclub in the early hours of September 18. Her backpack, passport and mobile phone were found in her hostel, but her family was not informed of her disappearance for several days.
Her body was found in the sea on October 8, but police said the remains were not hers.
A DNA test later overturned that error, but her remains were so badly decomposed the cause of death was unknown. […]
Remember angry Grandma? The one who last year was saying she didn’t appreciate the “rumors” being spread about her step-grandson, Barack Obama, namely that he is secretly a Muslim? “Untruths are told that don’t have anything to do with what Barack is about. I am very against it,” Sarah Obama said.
Something else she said at the time was that she too was a Christian.
Well that seems to have changed, or been a lie. In a report earlier this month, WND has her as a known Muslim:
President Barack Obama’s paternal grandmother, Sarah Obama, will reportedly perform the Muslim Hajj pilgrimage this year along with her son Syeed Obama.
A private Kenyan television channel, quoted extensively by the Kenyan and Pakistani media, reported Sarah Obama and her son will also visit Dubai before going to Saudi Arabia for performing Hajj. The pair lives in Kenya.
The News, a newspaper in Dubai, confirmed the report. It quoted United Arab Emirates’ property tycoon Sulaiman Al Fahim as stating he will personally sponsor Sarah Obama’s trip after meeting the elderly Obama in Kenya last week and learning she had always wanted to perform the Hajj.
The Hajj is the largest annual pilgrimage in the world. The fifth pillar of Islam requires every able-bodied Muslim to travel to Mecca at least once in their life in a demonstration of solidarity with fellow Muslims and in an act of individual submission to Allah.
Obama’s grandmother, a Muslim known locally as “Mama Sarah,” lives in Kogelo, a tiny village near the Ugandan border. She was in Washington, D.C., in January for Obama’s swearing-in ceremony.
So we know she lied about who she is. And one day we’ll find out if she also lied about who her grandson is. In any case, Christianity and Islam seem rather interchangeable in the Obama family. Especially if, after being partly raised Muslim, the “church” that one gravitates to is an anti-white, anti-Jewish, anti-American one. Not much of a leap back from there.
Anyway, while she’s on that Hajj amid millions of Arabs, she’d better watch her back so she doesn’t get swiped into slavery.
In the previous post, Hiding Genocide in Kosovo author Iseult Henry mentions the village of Gorazdevac, which she wrote was one of the last surviving ones near the town of Pec, and which she got into trouble for helping. For reference purposes, this is the village that last August held the fifth annual memorial service for two Serbian boys who were gunned down there by Albanians in 2003. 2008 also marked the fifth year that the perpetrators have not been brought to justice, with the case still — as the joke goes in Kosovo — “being investigated.” Following is an item from last August:
KPS [Kosovo Police Service]: Goraždevac killers still unknown
PRIŠTINA — Kosovo police have no information on who killed two Serb children in Goraždevac five years ago.
Kosovo Police Serbia (KPS) spokesman Veton Elshani denied claims by the families of the murdered boys that police knew the name of the killer but had done nothing to arrest the suspect.
Milisav Dakin, the father of one of the children, said that he had personally told police the name of the person who had opened fire on the children, who had been swimming in the Bistrica river. His son Pantelije and another boy, Ivan Jovović, were killed in the incident, while a further four children were wounded.
The fathers of the two murdered boys called on KFOR and the police yesterday to find the murderers, adding that the identity of the killers was common knowledge.
According to witness statements after the incident, the shots were fired from the Albanian-populated village of Zahać on 50 Serbs, including 30 children, who had been swimming in the Bistrica river.
A snapshot of the funeral, from Byzantine Blog:
The younger brother of the slain 11-year-old Pantelija Dakic was carrying the cross to mark his brother’s grave at the funeral. August 13, 2003, Gorazdevac, Kosovo-Metohija, Serbia.
And here is an interesting report on a religious Kosovo-based Serbian site, at the time of the crime ( “interesting” in its typicalness):
Gorazdevac, Gracanica, August 13, 2003
Unknown persons opened machine gun fire on Serb children bathing in the Bistrica River not far from Gorazdevac, Pec municipality. According to preliminary information two Serb children were killed and at least five others wounded.
Panta Dakic (10) and Ivan Jovovic (20) were pronounced dead at Pec Hospital while Bogdan Bukumiric (15) and Nikola Bogicevic are in critical condition. Also seriously wounded were Dragana Srbljak (14), Djordje Ugrenovic (20) and Marko Bogicevic, said Sladjana Todorovic of Gorazdevac, who was with the wounded children in Pec Hospital.
Bogdan Bukumiric is scheduled to be transferred to Belgrade by helicopter during the day. According to reports from the field, Albanians stoned the vehicle of Milovan Pavlovic while he was attempting to drive some of the wounded children to Pec Hospital. Pavlovic sustained arm injuries. Local sources report that the attackers also beat the wounded child in Pavlovic’s vehicle.
“The children were bathing today in the Bistrica River, some 500 meters from the center of the village, when they were targeted by machine gun fire by unknown persons at about 13.30. Three rounds were fired. KFOR and UNMIK police have not conducted an investigation at the site of the attack, although members of the UN military mission helped to get from Gorazdevac to Pec Hospital”, explained Sladjana Todorovic.
Gorazdevac today is full of great unrest and fear. The nuns of the Pec Patriarchate and the monks of Visoki Decani have urgently requested KFOR to allow them to enter Gorazdevac. The sisterhood of the Pec Patriarchate could not get an escort and the Decani monks are still waiting for a positive response from KFOR to provide them with a military escort.
“This is an unprecedented crime. In Kosovo and Metohija for four years there has been no Serbian Army or police, who Albanian terrorists claimed were their enemies, and they are killing our children. In the past Serb children have been the targets of grenades and run over by cars, and now they are being perfidiously killed when they are swimming in the river,” said Bishop Artemije of Raska and Prizren, commenting on today’s terrorist attack near Gorazdevac.
The Serb village of Gorazadevac is located near Pec and security is provided by Italian KFOR troops. It is still the home of some 1,000 Serbs, half of the village population prior to the arrival of the UN mission in Kosovo and Metohija. The village has a primary school and two secondary schools, one technical and one economic. In order to obtain basics for life, residents are dependent on military and police assistance or forced to travel to northern Kosovska Mitrovica by escorted convoy.
On the same page as the item above there is an incisive editorial comment which is consistent with the bigger picture that Iseult Henry observed over the course of her work in Kosovo:
These crimes are not crimes committed by individuals for which society and the leadership governing it bear no responsibility. If that were the case, society and its officials would certainly identify the transgressors and bring them to justice. The fact…that the most serious crimes that have been committed in Kosovo and Metohija remain unresolved to this day clearly suggests that there is a conscious and planned campaign to cover up crimes and somehow rationalize them.
The only consolation we have in this society based on injustice and hypocrisy is God’s justice, which will sooner or later catch up with all those who want to build a future for their own children on the blood of the innocent. This justice frequently comes late but never fails to come at all “for nothing is covered that will not be revealed” (Mat 10:26, Luk 12:2) as history has borne out time and time again.
Just one random example underscoring the par-for-the-course nature of crimes against Serbs going unpunished is the Nis Bus Massacre, in which an explosion targeting the bus killed 11 Serbs and injured 10 others (the count was actually higher, but these are the official figures for indictment purposes) — and which was “under investigation” for seven years before someone was convicted. Last year I blogged that the unprecedented had happened: in June Florim Ejupi was sentenced to 40 years by a UN court, and I wrote, “The murders happened in 2001. The investigation got moving in late 2006. And the only reason it got moving at all is that international scrutiny of Kosovo increased as the independence ‘deadline’ neared…Uh-oh. Someone screwed up and sentenced an Albanian for killing Serbs. Whoever is responsible for this investigation and prosecution had better be in hiding.”
Sure enough, this past March brought the following development: In its first ruling since Kosovo’s judicial administration transitioned to the next stage, the EULEX mission, a EULEX appeals court did this:
EU judges free Albanian over Kosovo bus bombing (Friday, 13 March 2009)
European Union judges in a Kosovo appeals court cleared an Albanian man who had previously been sentenced to 40 years in prison for the 2001 bombing of a Serbian bus, a spokeswoman said on Friday.
The appeals court ruled Thursday that the evidence against Florim Ejupi was insufficient.
The panel was comprised of judges from Eulex, the law-enforcing mission EU deployed to Kosovo in December.
It was the first ruling of the Eulex appeals court since the mission deployed four months ago.
Florim Ejupi received a 40-year sentence last year after he was “found guilty” of attack in Gracanica. He appealed against the verdict.
“He is released,” Karin Limdal, spokeswoman for the European Union police and justice mission (EULEX). She did not give a reason for the decision.
The EULEX mission, composed of international police officers, customs agents, judges and prosecutors, was deployed in Kosovo in December to help the Balkan country build up its institutions.
Recall, incidentally, that when this now released suspect was being held at a U.S. military detention facility at Camp Bondsteel, he managed to escape under mysterious circumstances. Of course he did — he was a “former” member of our terrorist allies the KLA and current member of the regrouped ANA/AKSH (Albanian National Army). Anyone who helped in the “liberation” of Kosovo from Serbs gets to operate with impunity — in the U.S. as well.
In the bomb attack on Serb pilgrims heading to participate in a religious ceremony in Gracanica one entire buss[sic] was torn into pieces…The survivers in the bus graphically described shocking scenes of human joints hanging around in the charred buss[sic] shell. Pieces of human bodies could be found dozens of meters around. The terrorists placed large quantities of explosives under a little bridge in an exclusively Albanian inhabited part of Podujevo municipality in order to blow up a Serb bus which was travelling[sic] in a convoy escorted by Swedish KFOR…
Another theme in Ms. Henry’s narrative, as it is in her book Hiding Genocide in Kosovo, is the international intent to humiliate the Serbs. I’ve written before about Serbs being arrested when they’re attacked, which is just one of many examples.
Related to the humiliation point is the following from British former MP Alice Mahon, who served as a member of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly:
She also reported speaking to a British policeman who had been hired to arrest ICTY indictees in Bosnia; she said that when she spoke to the officer he told her that he was only interested in arresting Serbs.
It’s worth excerpting from the excellent article that this comes from, by Andy Wilcoxson, since it further outlines our singular treatment of Serbs, and relates to my recent Racak summary:
[Mahon] said that NATO was openly planning to attack Yugoslavia in mid-1998. She said that the plan to attack Yugoslavia was being widely and openly discussed inside of NATO at that time. It is worth noting that the earliest crime that Milosevic is indicted for in Kosovo is the alleged “massacre” at Racak in mid-January 1999. Therefore, the plan to attack Yugoslavia existed *BEFORE* the pretext that was offered to the public by NATO officials – namely that the bombing was NATO’s reaction to Serb war crimes.
…She traveled to Macedonia and spoke to OSCE/KVM observers only three weeks before the war and they told her that the situation was getting better and that there was no reason for NATO to attack.
The witness said that the Kosovo war transformed NATO from a defensive organization into an offensive organization. She testified that NATO was looking for an excuse to attack and that it created its excuse presenting an unreasonable ultimatum to Yugoslavia at Rambouillet.
The ultimatum that NATO gave Yugoslavia at Rambouillet was to either accept a wholesale NATO occupation, or be bombed. Obviously, Yugoslavia couldn’t accept a wholesale occupation, so NATO attacked.
Ms. Mahon said that the contents of the so-called “Rambouillet Agreement” were concealed from British MPs and NATO parliamentarians until April 1999 – one month after the bombing began.
She testified that she had received information that the CIA had infiltrated the OSCE/KVM, and that William Walker had staged the so-called “Racak massacre.”
Ms. Mahon was also critical of the Hague Tribunal. She said that she had presented several volumes of evidence detailing Croatian crimes against Serbs to Carla del Ponte, and that the OTP [Office of the Prosecutor] never reacted…
Ms. Mahon briefly commented on the role that the Western media played. She said that Western media systematically demonized the Serbs. She said that crimes allegedly perpetrated by Serbs received excessive media coverage, while crimes committed against Serbs received almost no coverage. […]
A final note on Rambouillet, from Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR) in 2001:
New evidence has emerged confirming that the U.S. deliberately set out to thwart the Rambouillet peace talks in France in order to provide a “trigger” for NATO’s bombing of Yugoslavia.
News reports almost universally blamed the failure of negotiations on Serbian intransigence…[But] it was U.S. negotiators, not the Serbs, who blocked an agreement.
Now, in the June 14 issue of the Nation, George Kenney, a former State Department Yugoslavia desk officer, reports:
“An unimpeachable press source who regularly travels with Secretary of State Madeleine Albright told this [writer] that, swearing reporters to deep-background confidentiality at the Rambouillet talks, a senior State Department official had bragged that the United States ‘deliberately set the bar higher than the Serbs could accept.’ The Serbs needed, according to the official, a little bombing to see reason.”
In other words, the plan for Kosovo autonomy drafted by State Department officials was intentionally crafted to provoke a rejection from Serb negotiators…
Providing further confirmation of Kenney’s account, Jim Jatras, a foreign policy aide to Senate Republicans, reported in a May 18 speech at the Cato Institute in Washington that he had it “on good authority” that a “senior Administration official [Madeleine Albright] told media at Rambouillet, under embargo” the following: “We intentionally set the bar too high for the Serbs to comply. They need some bombing, and that’s what they are going to get.”
What may be the final follow-up to the Valentine’s week massacre of 2007 got local coverage only — in the Salt Lake Tribune and by Salt Lake City radio station KSL. But at least a couple of the findings in this recently released FBI report on the incident go unmentioned by either news organization. Here are the significant findings in the report about Bosnian-Muslim murderer Sulejman Talovic, who killed five Americans and wounded four:
1) Talovic was described as a religious Muslim, attending mosque on Fridays and praying outside of mosque as well.
2) He wore a necklace with a miniature Koran at the time of the shooting.
3) His body was prepped at a mosque before being sent to Bosnia.
4) He told his “girlfriend” the night before that “tomorrow will be the happiest day of my life…” (a likely reference to martyrdom).
5) He held prejudicial beliefs against Serbs, homosexuals, and blacks.
6) Police were called to his school in 2004 after Talovic was caught looking at guns on the internet and making the statement that his “grandfather was in the jihad.”
That last one indicates that Bosnians secretly know they were engaged in a jihad even as they claim victimhood.
In this redacted FBI form, meanwhile, a co-worker said that Talovic would sometimes do Nazi salutes.
But for some reason, the emphasis in this Salt Lake Tribune article is not on the fact that Talovic had a history with Islam, hatred and violence (all mutually-fueling factors), but on the fact that he had a history with the mall as a hangout:
FBI found Talovic had a history with Trolley Square (May 16)
When 18-year-old Sulejman Talovic walked into Trolley Square and opened fire on shoppers, he was returning to a childhood hangout, according to newly-released FBI documents.
Talovic and his family used to live one block from the mall, and one person told agents Talovic played there with his sisters as a child.
But in 745 pages of reports, the FBI did not conclude why Talovic committed the Feb. 12, 2007, shooting or uncover any evidence of a wider plot behind them…
And of course, if there is no wider plot, then let’s block out the possibility of Sudden Jihad Syndrome as well.
…The FBI wrote that Talovic in 2001 or 2002 “made a statement that he was going to shoot white people, like Serbs.” The nine people Talovic shot at Trolley Square were white.
“…white people, like Serbs.” That would be a reference to us, Folks. How many times do I have to say it? In the Balkans, Serbs were target practice for Muslims — like Jews are in the Middle East. Practice for the rest of us. And so we helped the Muslims take aim.
…One of the people later told the FBI Talovic said he liked white supremacist music.
“I don’t like black people,” Talovic reportedly said. “That’s why I was in the KKK.”
Another witness said he once saw a wound on Talovic’s arm and asked about it.
“Talovic said he had previously gotten a swastika tattoo and had then removed it himself, by cutting it off,” according to notes of the witness interview. Talovic said “he did not know what the swastika meant and stood for when he had gotten the tattoo.” Talovic’s family told agents he did not have a tattoo.
One person…told the FBI Talovic said he hated “faggots” and was smoking opium and crystal meth.
Talovic wore a necklace containing a miniature Quran during the attacks, documents say, and FBI agents asked many people about Talovic’s Islamic faith. Family told agents Talovic once attended a mosque for prayers every Friday but stopped when he left school and began working. Co-workers did not observe Talovic praying during the day. The FBI found no evidence his religion was a factor.
Stacy Hanson, a Talovic victim who is confined to a wheelchair as a result, in an interview Friday said… “It doesn’t change anything, but it’s nice to know something about this guy because our lives have been changed — every single one of us.”
FBI report finds no motive for ‘07 mall shooting (May 17)
A report of an FBI investigation into a Utah mall shooting says agents could find no reason for the Feb. 12, 2007 shootings or uncover evidence of a wider plot.
The investigation was finished in 2007 and details are only coming out now through a Freedom of Information Act request.
FBI agents say he bought shotgun shells on Feb. 8, 2007, then had a phone conversation the day before the attack, saying, “Tomorrow is going to be the happiest day of my life, but it will happen only once.”
“I can’t speculate as to what he may or may not have meant in saying that,” [FBI Special Agent Tim] Fuhrman said.
But Fuhrman says the FBI does know the attack wasn’t a terrorist attack, as some had speculated. “Clearly, he had some religious beliefs, but just because someone has religious beliefs doesn’t mean anything is a terrorist act, he said.
The FBI was unable to confirm many of these statements or prove they were what he truly believed. The agency does know that Talovic acted alone, without telling anyone why, leaving no notes or clues.
“We just were unable to pin down any particular motive as to why this would happen, and unfortunately his motivations went to the grave with him,” Fuhrman said.
No, they went to Paradise with him.
The documents also hint at possible mental issues and drug use leading up to the shooting. […]
There is no assessable “motive”, because Islam is still desperately viewed as a religion rather than a motive.
So, my fellow Americans. NOW do we think that maybe it really was “Allah Akbar” we heard in that much contested audio clip of the shooting?
Finally, it should be pointed out that the date of the shooting, Feb. 12th, is significant. Five years earlier, Feb. 12th was the opening day of the Hague tribunal against Slobodan Milosevic for finally fighting back against the Balkans monsters that were attacking his citizens. We put a reluctant anti-jihadist on trial on Feb. 12, 2002, and on the same day five years later one of the monsters he was fending off opened fire on us.
When I first started analyzing the Trolley Square Massacre, I pointed to an instant defense that media and family alike used on behalf of the shooter: THE SERBS MADE ME DO IT! (I also suggested that perhaps Talovic learned to kill not from seeing Muslims killed, but from seeing Muslims kill.)
Continuing the time-honored tradition of finding the root Serbian cause of crime committed by any Bosnian, Albanian or Croatian anywhere in the world, a Croatian tried it in Ohio late last year:
Parole not possible for man who killed Willoughby dentist
Jasmin Miljkovic was tortured as a 12-year-old boy growing up in war-torn Bosnia…His mother hoped for a better life for her son when they moved to America, but Miljkovic never got over the post-traumatic stress from his early life.
On Wednesday in Lake County Common Pleas Court, Miljkovic — now 29 — seemed resigned to the fact that he will die in prison for murdering popular Willoughby dentist Robert Kalina.
[Public defender Charles] Grieshammer said Miljkovic — the father of an elementary-aged daughter — never meant to harm the 70-year-old dentist when he entered Kalina’s Willo Medical Building on Nov. 4, 2006, to steal a Rolex watch. [Living among Serbs made him covet Rolex watches!]
“This is a typical half-baked robbery plan,” said the defense attorney. “Dr. Kalina did something he did not expect. He gave resistance.”
“We welcomed you and your family into this country and then you turn around and show your appreciation by committing those very same acts (that occurred in Bosnia) on another person,” the judge said. […]
In a recent piece about the pope’s visit to the Holy Land, WND’s Aaron Klein described the plight of the Christians in the Palestinian terrortories starting from the time that Arafat took over. To Kosovo watchers, it should sound familiar:
Christian leaders and residents in Bethlehem told me they face an atmosphere of regular hostility. They said Palestinian armed groups stir tension by holding militant demonstrations and marches in the streets. They spoke of instances in which Christian shopkeepers’ stores were ransacked and Christian homes attacked.
Some Christian leaders said one of the most significant problems facing Christians in Bethlehem is the rampant confiscation of land by Muslim gangs.
“There are many cases where Christians have their land stolen by the [Muslim] mafia,” said Samir Qumsiyeh, a Bethlehem Christian leader and owner of the Beit Sahour-based private Al-Mahd (Nativity) TV station.
“It is a regular phenomenon in Bethlehem. They go to a poor Christian person with a forged power of attorney document, then they say we have papers proving you’re living on our land. If you confront them, many times the Christian is beaten. You can’t do anything about it. The Christian loses, and he runs away,” Qumsiyeh told me, speaking from his hilltop television station during an interview last year.
Qumsiyeh himself said he was targeted by Islamic gangs, his home firebombed after he returned from a trip abroad during which he gave public speeches outlining the plight of Bethlehem’s Christian population.
One Christian Bethlehem resident told me her friend recently fled Bethlehem after being accused by Muslims of selling property to Jews, a crime punishable by death in some Palestinian cities. A good deal of the intimidation, she added, comes from gunmen associated with PA President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah organization.
A February Jerusalem Post article cited the case of Faud and Georgette Lama, Christian residents of Bethlehem who said their land was stolen by local Muslims, but that when they tried to do something about it, Faud was beaten by gunmen.
One religious novelty-store owner I met recently told me Muslim gangs regularly deface Christian property.
“We are harassed, but you wouldn’t know the truth. No one says anything publicly about the Muslims. This is why Christians are running away.”
Meanwhile, Benedict’s call for a Palestinian state would bring complete PA control over more territory in which Christians reside. Thus, his call, if implemented, may well result in even more Christian deaths, persecution and intimidation.
To quote Iseult Henry, author of Hiding Genocide in Kosovo, “In Kosovo land doesn’t belong to those who own it, but to those who want it.”
The constant intimidation described above applies as well to the non-Albanians of Kosovo, but more specifically, where it says, “Palestinian armed groups stir tension by holding militant demonstrations and marches in the streets.” Such has been the regular scene in Kosovo since the 1970s, so that the non-Albanians get the message as to whom the province belongs. It’s also what the many monuments to fallen KLA fighters dotting Kosovo’s landscape are all about, the few remaining minorities having to suffer the indignity of tributes to those who killed their family members. The Albanian flag being raised all over Kosovo is about the same thing, as well as the KLA insignia everywhere and KLA graffiti on churches and private property.
As described above in the Palestinian areas, Albanians come and go into non-Albanians’ homes and take what they like, also destroying the homes or small businesses of Serbs.
In reference to this above: “If you confront them, many times the Christian is beaten. You can’t do anything about it. The Christian loses, and he runs away.” This is precisely the lawlessness that has led to the flight of 300,000 people from Kosovo since the 1999 NATO intervention. I described exactly this scene in Kosovo, between one of the last Croats there and the Albanian who wanted his land:
A climate of fear prevails in Letnica just like all the other enclaves in Kosovo. It does not matter that they are Catholic Croats. Someone wants their land and their property and therefore they are legitimate targets. Some families in the village have suffered almost daily harassment and intimidation.
An Albanian man Haki Ahmeti from the village Komo Glava in Urosevac municipality bought a small piece of land from a Croat neighbour of Froka’s who had decided to leave. The land was on the bank of the river which ran under Froka’s house. Haki cut off part of the water to Froka’s mill. Froka took Haki to court. In November 2003 when Haki got the summons to go to court he attacked Froka in the street near his home and rammed the summons into Froka’s mouth. He called him vulgar names saying he would cut off his private parts. Froka reported the assault to the Kosovo Police Service who took statements and prepared a case for court. Two others from Letnica were witnesses. These were Marian Nikolic and Marko Kolic, who both told Froka that they were threatened by Haki to keep quiet. In court the judge said the case would be resolved if they shook hands and kept the peace in future. They did so but upon leaving the court only a few hundred metres from the court house Haki and his son attacked Froka and beat him up. Then and there, Froka decided to drop the case because of the threats. His friend Marko used to work in the mill but he is afraid to go there alone now. The Croat community is now afraid to report incidents and has no faith in the court system to defend their rights.
… Haki always tells Froka that it does not matter what the court says, “We will get the mill in the end.” Haki is now using the land that he bought from Froka’s neighbour to re-direct the course of the river. Froka took a second court case against him, this time because he was affecting the water supply to the mill. Haki beat up Froka in the street outside the court and warned Froka that he was not to sell the property to anyone….
The remaining Croats are afraid to work their land as Albanians both here and from across the border in Macedonia threaten them on a daily basis…The village has lost hope. More than 100 reports of harassment have been lodged with the authorities but not one case has been resolved and the reports make the Albanians even more angry. Albanians come to see Milorad every day to see if he will sell his house in Vitina. The Albanians graze their cattle on Froka’s land as if it is already theirs.
Here is another page from Froka’s life:
The first to be killed in the area was a Croat man from the village of Shashevici; his name was Petar Tunic and he was 70 years old. A Catholic nun went with KFOR to look for him when he went missing. They found the corpse in the woods near his house. According to the nun every organ had been ripped out of his body and then he was shot…This event was enough to frighten most of the rest of the remaining Croats. [Village representative Froka Djokic] explained that the Croat community decided to leave after this killing….That one killing was seen as a warning and the continuing campaign of harassment has underlined the same message as far as the Croat community in the area is concerned.
No NGOs except the Serbian Red Cross assist this village; they bring stuff, food and non food items to Vrbovac and they share it out with the Croats in Letnica.
In 2005 in all the Croat villages there were 63 people left compared with 1999 when there were 570. In the early 1990s there were 6,000. All that remain are the old and sick. When returnees have visited Letnica they have been subjected to threats and intimidation.
The Macedonian Albanians [who took over the fleeing Croatians’ houses] have recently become increasingly belligerent, making insulting remarks to the Croat women in front of their men-folk in an apparent attempt to provoke some sort of incident. Certain women in the village have been threatened with rape. Froka, his Serbian son-in-law Milorad and the other Croat men express their shame that they cannot protect their female relatives and friends. Albanian Catholics do speak to the Croats in Letnica but Albanian Muslims, mainly from Macedonia never speak to the Croats except to swear at them and their women folk telling them they should not be here anymore.
Regarding this paragraph from the Klein piece: “One Christian Bethlehem resident told me her friend recently fled Bethlehem after being accused by Muslims of selling property to Jews, a crime punishable by death in some Palestinian cities. A good deal of the intimidation, she added, comes from gunmen associated with PA President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah organization.”
It is similarly not allowed for Albanians to sell property to Serbs, nor would any Albanian think of doing so. In fact, Albanian shopkeepers are prohibited even from selling groceries to Serbs. Again similarly, all of this intimidation goes on with the approval and encouragement of those at the highest levels of Kosovo’s government — they devised the whole arrangement to begin with.
The last part that I quote of Klein’s article reads, “Meanwhile, Benedict’s call for a Palestinian state would bring complete PA control over more territory in which Christians reside. Thus, his call, if implemented, may well result in even more Christian deaths, persecution and intimidation.”
Precisely the end result of an independent Kosovo — statehood would make these methods officially official.