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Australian man faces ‘shocking’ war crimes over Croatia massacre

Ovčara Massacre Memorial, the monument, Vukovar, Croatia

An Australian man living in Sydney has been charged with historic war crimes over the alleged massacre of 43 people during the Balkans conflict. 30 among the 43 people were civilians.

SBS News reported that the 59-year-old Zoran Tadic’s life as an Australian citizen might come to an end. He is believed to have been living an ordinary life in Australia for more than 25 years, raising a family in the suburbs of Sydney and becoming an Australian citizen.

The reason behind such is that the Special War Crimes Investigations Unit in Croatia last month laid charges of crimes against humanity under the Geneva Conventions against Mr Tadic in absentia.

“The accused is wanted for war crimes committed in the area of Škabrnja, Croatia on November 18, 1991, where 30 innocent civilians and 13 local defenders lost their lives,” a spokesperson for the Croatian Embassy in Canberra told SBS News in a statement.

“The Republic of Croatia remains unequivocally committed to bringing the perpetrators of all war crimes on our territory to justice,” the spokesperson added.

Croatian-Australian academic Ludka Budak from Macquarie University told SBS News the allegations were “shocking” and raised questions about how Mr Tadic was first allowed into Australia in the early 1990s.

“This is a very, very serious matter, for us as Australian citizens to have people like that walking our streets and finding a so-called safe haven in Australia,” he said.

Mr Tadic was allegedly the leader of a Serbian paramilitary unit at the time of the brutal massacre.

Speaking to The Australian newspaper last month, Croatian massacre survivor Marko Miljanic said many elderly people were killed in Škabrnja by methods including having their throats slit.

The Serbian Embassy in Canberra told SBS News they had no comment to make on the case.

In 2015, after over a decade of legal appeals, Dragan Vasiljković, nicknamed ‘Captain Dragan’, was extradited to Croatia where he was later sentenced to 15 years in prison over war crimes.

Captain Dragan was believed to have been the first Australian citizen extradited over war crimes accusations.