We shall temporarily leave Croatia but even from the exile I shall continue to struggle for my country to democratically confronts its dark past, in order for it to remain history and to enable citizens of my country to finally start to live in the present and to turn to the future unburdened, he said.
Željko Peratović is a freelance journalist and activist of Center for Civil Courage (http://www.civilcourage.hr/), NGO from Zagreb. He edits and published on Center’s Internet portal 45lines.com (en.45.lines.com and de.45lines.com).
During the previous 12 months he actively advocated issues of confronting with the past, encouraging discussion on dark chapters of recent Croatian history and he advocated judicial processing of unresolved cases of political murders that occurred while Croatia was a part of socialist Yugoslavia, as well as those that occurred after independence.
While writing for portal 45lines.com and appearing as activist in domestic and foreign media he particularly focused on two cases: murder of Croatia political emigrant Stjepan Đureković that occurred in 1983 in Munich, Germany, perpetrated by Yugoslav communist secret police and assassination of witness of war crimes perpetrated by Croatian army against Serbs in region of Lika during was for independence 1991-1995, Milan Levar, who was assassinated by a bomb planted in backyard of his house in Gospić in 2000.
For decades Peratović has been exposing evidence on political crimes committed during socialist Croatia, while it was a part of Yugoslavia, as well as on those committed during and after war for independence, demonstrating their connection since organizers and methods remain the same. He is exposing the fact that organizers participated in creation of Croatian state, due to which there is no democratic public discussion about these crimes, there are no judiciary proceedings and no real confrontation with the past that may lead to catharsis of Croatian society.
During the past year he published a multitude of new information on Đureković case, a murder for which heads of Croatian and Yugoslav secret police Josip Perković and Zdravko Mustač are being tried in Germany. He also exposed numerous obstructions of current and previous Croatian authorities aimed at silencing of case of murder of witness of war crimes Milan Levar.
Jury of Croatian Journalist Society awarded him with Marija Jurić Zagorka award for investigative journalism in 2014 for these discoveries.
Shortly after having received the award, on May 28 of this year, three assailants attempted to murder him in his weekend house near Karlovac.
Police initially qualified the attack at attempt to inflict minor injuries. Considering that this is the case of marginalizing the case and especially after prosecution publicly stated that the case has no political background, Peratović personally initiated criminal proceedings for attempted murder, which was accepted by competent state attorney’s office in Karlovac, after pressure from numerous international association, EHF being one of them.
Investigation for attempted murder is officially pending, but Peratović considers it to be another obstruction since, among other issues, he as the victim, damaged party and witness still has not been interviewed, thus denying him his right to examine the investigation file.
Since the attempted murder only news about the actual event and the fact that investigation was instigated appeared in Croatian media. In every other respect, Croatian media are ignoring his case and he is no longer being invited to provide any comments as expert and activist.
He continues his struggle against censorship by publishing on portal of Center for Civil Courage 45lines.com, writing about his and other cases he considers to be reasons for this attack.
Due to psychological consequences sustained due to this attack, failure of institutions to act and concern for existence of family members who also received death threats, he intends to seek political asylum in Switzerland in 2016, together with his family.
– We shall temporarily leave Croatia but even from the exile I shall continue to struggle for my country to democratically confronts its dark past, in order for it to remain history and to enable citizens of my country to finally start to live in the present and to turn to the future unburdened, he said.