Criminals die too, don’t they? - Announcing the death of General Blagoje Adzic
Author: Bojan Toncic
Uploaded: Tuesday, 03 April, 2012
Acid comment on the death of the JNA chief of general staff responsible for the destruction of Vukovar, never indicted for war crimes by the Hague Tribunal
A bit of good news for the Serbian war-crimes tribunal: Blagoje Adžic died on 1 March. The news was reported among the death notices by Politika, after which it was picked up by the rest of the Belgrade press. The Serbian war-crimes tribunal’s chief prosecutor, Vladimir Vukcevic, and his spokesman, Bruno Vekaric, will therefore not need even to pretend to be conducting an investigation into the destroyer of Vukovar, nor will they have to listen to the uncomfortable reminders of journalists that this retired and decorated lieutenant-general should be put behind bars. But then again, it never occurred to them to begin with, to chase through Cvecara the late Blagoje Adžic, chief of the JNA general staff at the time of its attack on Vukovar, for this would have run against the instruction of Serbian president Boris Tadic that the universal Serb innocence should be covered up. And, as we know so well, the president has rewards to dispense.
Nor will the prosecution have to defend its habitual slipperiness and hypocrisy, for it never considered delivering Adžic, sought by Osijek county court since 1991 on a charge of having committed genocide and war crimes against civilians and prisoners of war during the JNA attack on Croatia, to the neighbouring state. They disregarded this arrest warrant even as they professed their commitment to judicial cooperation, amid the furore directed against the Croatian law declaring the illiterate imbecilities of JNA prosecutors null and void.
The Hague fared no better at the hands of the Ustanicka fraternity, which remained most uninterested in the part of the charge laid by the tribunal against Hadžic, Martic, Simatovic and Stanišic, concerning the nature of their joint criminal enterprise ‘the aim of which was a forced and permanent removal of most non-Serbs, especially Croats, Bosnian Muslims and Bosnian Croats, from large parts of Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina (B-H)’.
‘Many individuals took part in this joint criminal enterprise. Each individual participant contributed actively or by default to the realisation of this enterprise. Among the individuals who took part in this joint criminal enterprise and in so doing contributed significantly to the realisation of its aim, were the accused Jovica Stanišic and Franko Simatovic, Slobodan Miloševic, Veljko Kadijevic, Blagoje Adžic, Ratko Mladic, Radmilo Bogdanovic, Radovan Stojcic called Badža, Mihalj Kertes, Milan Martic, Radovan Karadžic, Biljana Plavšic, Željko Ražnatovic called Arkan, Vojislav Šešelj, as well as other members of the JNA, subsequently the Army of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, the VRS and the Army of the Serb Krajina, the Serb Territorial Defence in Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia and Montenegro, the local police forces and the Serbian ministry of the interior, including Serbian state security and Martic’s police, as well as members of paramilitary units from Serbia, Montenegro and the units of the Bosnian Serbs.’
Of those who remained free, Veljko Kadijevic lived in the prosecutors’ neighbourhood, but they let him wander off. Still hanging around are the unforgettable Serbian police chief, Radmilo Bogdanovic, the director of Miloševic’s customs and war profiteer Mihalj Kertes, and Života Panic, Adžic’s successor as chief of staff. There is no answer to the question why in Serbia, which has legally inherited the JNA crimes, including Adžic’s conquest of a thoroughly destroyed city, it appears unthinkable that its war-crimes tribunal should investigate state officials properly accused of taking part in war crimes. It seems that the laws of biology are working on behalf of Vukcevic and other prosecutors, and of their superiors at Andricev Venac.
Let us return to the unforgettable Adžic. The rare written sources speak of his specifically Soviet (Adžic was schooled in Russia) attitude to the multiparty system and civilian control of the army. The former spokesman for the JNA, Ljubodrag Stojadinovic, vividly portrays the mood among the general staff in the spring of 1992, and Adžic’s rhetorical flights:
‘The general began his story very convincingly. He said that the enemy was active. And added that he never slept. And that he was to be found everywhere around us, even among us, that it was difficult to detect him but that we would nevertheless succeed in this too. And when we found him out, he said, he would be finished. He then violently attacked the multiparty system. He said we should never accept it, because it sought to destroy us, especially now that we were in the gravest of situations. This is why we should not play around, experimenting with an uncontrolled application of democratic political experiments that are practically inapplicable here. A large number of parties would only harm us. Which is why he passed on the order of the federal secretary of defence [Veljko Kadijevic]: “We will support a multiparty system, but only within the framework of the League of Communists of Yugoslavia (SKJ). The SKJ must remain in the JNA for at least another fifteen years.”’
The chief of staff ‘s individual military logic came to the fore also in his merciless destruction of the city of Vukovar, while Serbian propaganda spread lies about massacres of the Serb population there and of Ustasha necklaces made with babies’ fingers, and bombarded the brains of potential volunteers with reports on ‘predominantly Serb dead’ found in the courtyard of the Vukovar hospital - as reported for TV Belgrade by Nino Brajovic, who is now director of the Serbian Journalists’ Association.
“Not only do idle officers among us write anonymous letters”, he yelled, “they also don’t sign them!” The general sitting next to Adžic started to fidget in deep embarrassment: “Comrade general”, he whispered, “a letter is anonymous precisely because it is not signed”’
“I don’t need to be tutored! Don’t get wise with me!”, the chief of staff became furious. “I’m not a fool. Of course I know that an unsigned letter is anonymous. But I have issued an order that all letters be signed, including the anonymous ones. For, you tell me, how will we know who is writing all those stupidities, if such letters are not signed?”’
According to a story that sounds quite realistic, at meetings of the SFRJ presidency and the federal ministry of defence directors Adžic assailed the president of the Yugoslav presidency, Stipe Mesic, in a racy southern manner (he saw service in Macedonia) , threatening: ‘I’ll kill him, **** his mother!” (In Lj. Stojadinovic: The JNA - An Army Whose Generals Don’t Get Killed, Belgrade 2006)
General Adžic, the man who, following higher orders and even more his own personal convictions, has marked our lives by turning Serbia into a country existing between two military call-ups, and its state into a barbarous aggressor, has died unpunished. We are not told whether he was buried with the highest state and military honours. It would be rather strange if he was not, for his views continue to inspire the Serbian state and military leaderships, especially when it comes to our neighbours.
Translated from E-novine (Belgrade), 5 March 2012.