Prevent Extradition of Captain Dragan
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Daniel Snedden (AKA Dragan Vasiljkovic and Captain Dragan), an Australian Citizen is being held in prison, for over 3 years so far, with convicted criminals yet he has not been charged. He has been accused of commiting war crimes during the conflict in the former Yugoslavia but there has been no evidence of these claims. The Croatian Government is requesting his extradition to Croatia and the Australian Government is happy to incarcerate one of its own citizens on hearsay. Under the Extradition Act 1988 no evidence is required to extrdite a person to the requesting country. If it was the USA, UK or Canada requesting his extradition, they would require evidence of the allegations, not so for certain countries, in this case Croatia.
Daniel has already faced the War Crimes Tribunal in the Hague in 2003, and was released without any charges. He even declined an offer of immunity. To the Serbs, Daniel is a National Hero and Humanitarian and consequently he is a war trophy to Croatia.
If the Australian Government can incarcerate an Australian Citizen with convicted prisoners for over 3 years and consider extradition without a case for defence, what is to stop this happening to other Australian Citizens of differing heritage? Australian soldiers could be sent to Iraq on mere allegations.
Daniel was in Yugoslavia when the conflict broke out and lead the special unit from Krajina in a disciplined and coordinated manner which in turn lead to many successful missions and becoming one of Serbia's National Heroes in a time of deep depression.
It was during the ten years after the war though, when he cemented himself in the hearts of Serbians, as he raised millions of dollars to help rehabilitate and educate 67 000 ex soldiers and provided support, scholarships and financial assistance to 14 000 children and orphans through the Foundation Kapetan Dragan. Clearly, this is not the profile of a war criminal but of a humanitarian.
After the war, he addressed the International War Crimes Tribunal at The Hague, where he endured hours of interrogation. He was offered immunity, which he turned down, as he was confident that he did not act outside the Geneva Conventions. This addressed his role in the war and resulted in NO prosecution. This should have been his chance to go on with a normal life.
Kapetan Dragan has dual citizenship in Australia and Serbia and currently resides in Australia. Kapetan Dragan came back to Australia at the end of 2004 to reconnect with his family and friends. He is a qualified Golf Pro and was teaching golf in Perth until his life was disrupted in September 2005, by The Australian newspaper. The article, which featured on the front page, made some outlandish false claims about Dragans activities during the war.
Kapetan Dragan decided to take legal action against The Australian and Nationwide News for defamation. A person does not take on the likes of Rupert Murdock if they have any skeletons in the closet. This act alone suggests that Dragan is a man of impecability who has nothing to hide. The Defamation Case was due to begin in the first week of February 2006. However he was detained under an arrest warrant issued by the Croatian Government on 19th January, two weeks before the court case was to commence.
Kapetan Dragan has been in the limelight, he was always publicly available and he kept in contact with relevant departments and ASIO so that they were aware of his movements and places of residence. Which makes you question why a warrant was issued at this particular time, some 15 years after the war?
Kapetan Dragan was refused bail and continues to be behind bars, the only person in Australia to be in a jail without being charged. He has no access to resources to prepare a case to defend himself and is a political prisoner.
The Serbs for Justice and Democracy are concerned that he will not get a fair trial in a Croatian court and also fear for his safety if he is extradited. Phillip Ruddock has said that an extradition notice would not be regarded, if there were a chance that the prisoner would face execution. I am suggesting that by sending this man to a Croatian jail, torture and execution is certain, perhaps not through the legal system though. The Croatian courts have a reputation for convicting ethnic Serbs of war crimes as petty as stealing plates. A report by Human Rights Watch also indicates that in 2002 83% of all ethnic Serbs indicted for war crimes before Croatian Courts were convicted, compared to only 18% of Croats in Serbia. So what are Kapetan Dragan's chances of a fair and just hearing?
The aim of this petition is to create awareness of this mans situation, that he is a political prisoner and has limited resources to defend his case. He is simply an Australian citizen, who did his job at a tragic time of war to help his people get a better standard of life.
We are seeking people to sign this petition and support Kapetan Dragan Vasiljkovic, an Australian passport holder, and his family and friends in preventing his extradition to Croatia. The war has ended and we do not want to see race relations stretched because of the power of media.
If the allegations must be heard, then they must be heard in a neutral location where Daniel can exercise his right to a fair trial.
Help keep an Australian/Serbian family together and don't allow this to happen to other Australians.
We, the undersigned, hereby support Dragan Vasiljkovic and the dismissal of the extradition notice from Croatia. We believe that he will be prejudiced at his trial in Croatia based on his ethnicity and reputation.
We support an Australian/Serbian family man to remain in Australia and go through due processes here or at the International War Crimes Tribunal, where he will receive a fair and equitable trial.
The Prevent Extradition of Captain Dragan petition to Minister for Home affairs Bob Debus was written by JKV and is in the category Human Rights at GoPetition.