The first investigation of the violations of the international law during the first armed conflict in former Yugoslavia, in June 1991 in Slovenia, resulted in a “shocking discovery”, according to the Slovenian Žurnal 24 The Hidden Side of Slovenian “War for Independence”: Lies, Deceptions and War Crimes.
( Slovenian paramilitaries painting a national separatist emblem on the side of their tank. June 1991, Slovenia, Yugoslavia)
The uncovered hidden side of these events debunks the widely accepted official version, according to which the Yugoslav National Army (JNA), equated with Serbia, “attacked Slovenia” following its unilateral declaration of independence from the Yugoslav federation. Quite the opposite is true, said Slovenian researcher Marko Prešeren: it was Slovenian paramilitary forces (inconspicuously named “Territorial defense”, TO) who have attacked Yugoslav Army stationed in Slovenia, in violation of the international law and Geneva Conventions.
Despite the unambiguous message delivered by the US secretary of state James Baker on 21 June 1991 that the US and OSCE do not support dissolution of Yugoslavia, Slovenia and Croatia declared themselves “sovereign and independent states” on 25 June 1991, only four days after American official’s urgent visit to Serbian [Milošević], Croat [Tudjman] and Slovenian [Kučan] leaders, amid the Slovenian and Croat calls for unilateral secession.
In the evening after the proclamation, the Yugoslav Federal Council approved Federal Prime Minister Ante Marković’s (an ethnic Croat) directive that the JNA intervene in order to protect Yugoslavia’s international borders which now fell under direct Slovenian control, with Slovenia illegally taking over the goods in transit and Yugoslav state’s customs revenues.
On the morning of 27 June president of Slovenian republic Milan Kučan went on Slovenian Television, to state that “the Republic of Slovenia will take all necessary measures to defend our independence against the Yugoslav Army.” The next day, Slovenian paramilitaries killed three Yugoslav Army conscripts in cold blood, while seizing Yugoslav border crossing with Austria at the town of Holmec.
Slovenian Propaganda Used as a Script in Later Conflicts
The ensuing conflict was later termed a “Ten Day War” or, as Slovenians proudly assert, their “war for independence” and a moment of glory, when Slovenian paramilitary troops “defeated the mighty Yugoslav Army”.
In his book titled “The Modern Yugoslav Conflict 1991-1995: Perception, deception and dishonesty,” Brendan O’Shea described the heavy propaganda and media manipulations Slovenians used to present themselves as “victims of the Serb aggression” — a recipe later faithfully followed and methodically repeated by the Croats and Bosnian Muslims.
“[…] The Slovenes also scored a major victory in the propaganda war and quickly had the international media reporting Serb atrocities when nothing of the sort was taking place. This was achieved by skillful media manipulation, and the hundreds of journalists who descended on Ljubljana were made most welcome. Thereafter they were corralled into a bunker beneath the Ministry of Information (allegedly for their own safety) and fed a steady diet of events taking place above ground — from the Slovene perspective.
“The Serbs were portrayed as violent communists who dropped cluster bombs on innocent civilians, the struggle being thus portrayed as one between Good (in the guise of Slovenes and Croats) and Evil (personified by the Serbs). In this way a fictional blow-by-blow account of the ten-day war was fed to the media by a team of young multilingual patriotic volunteers (mostly university students aged between 20 and 30) and, unable (and/or unwilling) to venture over-ground to confirm these stories, when editorial deadlines arrived the official Slovene version of events was broadcast as fact. Equally, when selected journalists (i.e. those disposed to the Slovene struggle) were allowed to venture up into the streets much of what they witnessed was stage-managed and choreographed. Not for the first time in the Balkans truth had become the first casualty of war — as it would not be the last occasion either.
“[…] In fact, Slovene propaganda was so successful that Hans Dietrich Genscher, the German foreign minister, was invited to Ljubljana at the start of the war and fed a steady diet of Slovene perspective. When he then went before a press conference he accused the JNA of ‘running amok’ in Slovenia. This accusation was totally untrue, but it served its purpose, as indeed did calls from Senator Bob Dole in Washington demanding that Milosevic halt his supposedly violent crackdown on democracy and human rights.”
Coldblooded Murder of Yugoslav Army Conscripts and the Other Unpunished War Crimes
The less known facts Slovenians generally don’t like to be reminded of throw completely different light on these events, tarnishing the accepted falsified version, enshrined in Slovenian and Western history books (and, of course, on Wikipedia, a global instant “history,” forged to further brainwashing of the masses).
Such is often conveniently disregarded fact that JNA garrisons in Slovenia consisted mostly of unarmed conscripts from all parts of former Yugoslavia, surrounded by the enemies and trapped in the army barracks of their own state, part of which was literally overnight turned into a “foreign soil”. Slovenian paramilitaries, armed with fresh caches of the most advanced German weapons, launched a war against the young conscripts, majority of whom were less than 19-years old, killing at least 44 and severely wounding another 185 of them in a little over a week.
Furthermore, investigation by the Helsinki Committee and testimonies of the JNA survivors have shown that the actual number of Yugoslav troops killed in Slovenia during the “ten-day war” is higher by at least 30-40 percent, as testified by the President of Slovenian Helsinki Committee for human rights Neva Miklavčič-Predan.
In addition, Slovenian leadership, police and paramilitary troops committed a number of grievous war crimes no one was ever charged with.
Among them is a coldblooded murder of three JNA conscripts by the Slovenian paramilitaries, on 28 June 1991, near the border crossing with Austria, in the small town of Holmec. According to the 1998 report by the Slovenian biggest circulation daily Slovenske Novice, the JNA conscripts surrendered, stepping before the Slovenian paramilitaries with their hands up in the air, waving the white sheet, only to be gunned down on the spot. The whole event was recorded from the other side of the border by the Austrian ORF TV crew, but Slovenia’s state prosecutor continued to insist there is “no suspicion of crimes having been committed at Holmec”.
Ms. Predan revealed that JNA members executed by the Slovenians at Holmec border crossing were identified as Yugoslav Army conscripts Zoran Ješić, Goran Maletić and Antonio Šimunović. According to their death certificates issued by Slovenia, they were sprayed with bullets on the same day, at the same time and in the same place, but Slovenian officials refuse to accept responsibility for their murder to this day.
Yugoslav Army Acted in a Civilized Manner, in Full Compliance with the International Law and Geneva Conventions
Now a more thorough investigation of the Slovenian “Ten-day War” reveals the entire conflict was instigated by the Slovenians, who were portrayed in the West as “victims of Serbian aggression” and “Milošević’s Greater Serbia designs”. In addition, the latest research unmasks the judicial processes Slovenian prosecution conducted against the alleged “JNA aggressors” as politically motivated trials with no legal basis, staged for the purpose of cementing the forged instant history and to absolve Slovenian political and military leadership of all responsibility for starting the war and committing war crimes.
Marko Prešeren, who was given permission by Slovenian state prosecutor Barbara Brezigar to examine the cases against 104 Yugoslav Army members for their participation in the ten-day conflict — in spite of the obstruction by the lower instances of the Slovenian prosecution which prevented him from investigating all the cases — found that it wasn’t the Yugoslav Army, or Serbia which started the armed clashes in Slovenia, but that Slovenian “Territorial Defense attacked Yugoslav Army, the fact which was also confirmed by the American intelligence agency CIA.”
“Data confirms that JNA members acted in compliance with Geneva Conventions so, to begin with, Slovenia had no right to prosecute them,” Prešeren said, adding that this discovery makes four acquittals of previously sentenced JNA officers entirely appropriate.
On the other hand, the greatest majority of the 104 trials against JNA members were “in violation of Geneva Conventions, since JNA troops acted in accordance with the international law and Geneva Conventions”.
“Each and every order issued by the Yugoslav Army contained strict command that civilians must not be targeted and that the Army must observe the international law. As much as that may sound strange here [in Slovenia], the truth of the matter is that Yugoslav Army acted in a civilized manner, as one would expect Western armies to behave,” Prešeren told Belgrade daily Politika.
Based on Slovenian documentation he had access to, Prešeren found that the book by Yugoslav Army titled “The Truth about the Armed Conflict in Slovenia”, which has been denounced in Slovenia as “Serbian propaganda”, gives the “entirely accurate account, with only one deficiency, of not giving the exact dates and places for every event described”. Nevertheless, this is “a rare military document where everything is accurate and correct in regards to the international norms and laws, with the primary documentary evidence superbly processed,” according to Prešeren.
Slovenian Judiciary Insufficiently Educated and Biased
Prešeren was able to examine all the judicial documents about the processes Slovenia lead against the Yugoslav Army members who were accused by the Slovenian prosecution of “war crimes” and “violations of the rules of war”.
The results of the investigation titled “Prosecutorial and judicial practice in Republic of Slovenia in regards to the violation of the international law during the 1991 armed conflict” were surprising for the author himself.
“I have found that most Slovenian courts were not conducting the trials in accordance with Geneva Conventions, because they don’t know how to apply them. Four conclusive acquittals were appropriate. On the other hand, out of 71 cases, 56 should have never been allowed to reach the court in the first place. There was no basis for Slovenia to prosecute those soldiers, since they have done nothing wrong — as opposed to our ‘criminologists’ who were planting evidence against them, as an act of retaliation,” Prešeren explained.
At the same time, he found that Slovenian judiciary was impaired by the heavy bias, shielding their own war criminals from due processes. Prešeren established that among all the accused of the ‘violation of the rules of war’ in Slovenia, there was only one Slovenian national, member of the Slovenian paramilitary troops, who was placed on trial, because “Slovenian prosecution would not prosecute ‘our own’.”
During his research, Prešeren was interested to find out why there were no trials for the members of Slovenian paramilitary troops. He was shocked by the prosecutors’ reactions.
“The prosecutors were horrified, they told me: We’re certainly not going to work against our own!”, Prešeren said.
He wondered whether Slovenians are aware how many members of Slovenian Territorial Defense were killed or wounded during the so-called ‘Ten Day War for Slovenian independence’. The correct answer is: not a single one.
Documents Prešeren had access to also prove the inhumane activities of the Slovenian Red Cross, which “jointly [with Slovenian paramilitaries] ran the war prison camp in the Kopar jail and was helping quell the rebellion of [imprisoned] JNA troops”.
Prešeren believes the biggest revelation of his study is not the fact Yugoslav Army wasn’t the one who started the war, but the ignorance and bias of the Slovenian judiciary, which insisted on prosecuting members of the Army which “acted in full compliance with the international law and Geneva Conventions”.
After completing his investigation, Prešeren concluded Slovenian prosecutors and judges need to get additional training in order to be properly educated and familiarized with international law and Geneva Conventions, to be able to tell the difference between the war crimes and acting within the legal bounds.
sources: De – construct.net;