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Yugoslav General Declared Traitor To Get Retrial

Vlado Trifunovic
Vlado Trifunovic
BELGRADE -- The Serbian Supreme Court has ruled that former Yugoslav General Vlado Trifunovic -- who was jailed after being declared a traitor -- should have his case retried, RFE/RL's Balkan Service reports.

Trifunovic, 73, was commander of the Yugoslav People's Army barracks at Varazdin, in Croatia, in 1991.

After the war between Serbia and Croatia broke out, he negotiated his way out of a difficult situation and gained safe passage for 250 soldiers who were besieged by Croatian forces.

In 1996, a court in Serbia convicted him of treason. Trifunovic spent 15 months in a Serbian prison before he was released.

He has been waging a legal battle since the end of the war, in 1995, to have his name cleared.

Trifunovic is currently living in a hotel room in Belgrade.

He told RFE/RL on January 5 after the decision by the Supreme Court that he is determined to prove that he acted responsibly when he secured the safe exit for his soldiers.

Trifunovic, who is in poor health, said he is sad that it took so long for a court to determine that his conviction was wrong.

"What I was told now [by the court] could have been stated 10 years ago. I still do not understand why there was a case against me in the first place. Why was I in prison? Why was I mistreated? Trifunovic said.

"What I feel now is deep disappointment. Is my guilt the fact that I didn't turn the town of Varazdin to ashes? At that point in time [1991], Serbia didn't need people to stay alive, but rather needed dead heroes to pave its history."

Trifunovic was also sentenced by a Croatian court in absentia to 15 years in prison, as were other commanders of Yugoslav forces fighting Croatian forces.