A 14-year-old high school student in Sisak, south of Zagreb, shot a classmate on Friday. He then held his class hostage before surrendering to police. The victim, a 14-year-old boy, was wounded in the elbow and was rushed to a nearby hospital. The class teacher, Snježana Martić, was also lightly wounded by fragment of the bullet or cartridge.
Police are still trying to establish a motive. The teenage gunman walked into class around noon with an M-48 rifle and started shooting at his classmate, who was writing on the blackboard during a lesson. He then held the class captive for about half an hour before he was persuaded by the school principal to put down his weapon and surrender.
Bosnia's Croats defiant
Ante Jelavić, leader of Bosnia's Croats, and three other senior party officials from the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ), were removed from senior party and government posts by the international community's High Representative, Wolfgang Petritsch, after they threatened to abandon the federation with Bosnia's Muslims.
"We do not recognise those decisions and dismiss them. We are in an institutional crisis in Bosnia," Jelavić told news agencies in his first public comment since being sacked as the Croat member of Bosnia's three-member, inter-ethnic presidency. Petritsch is the supreme political official power in Bosnia under the 1995 Dayton Peace Accords. He also dismissed Jelavić as head of the HDZ. But the HDZ headquarters in the southern city of Mostar remains in the hands of the dismissed officials.
The nationalist Croats say they will assume the Federation's legislative and executive powers in their area, collect taxes and other dues and have their own police. This self-rule would effectively destroy the federation with Bosnian Muslims, a key element of the Dayton agreement, which also created an autonomous Serb republic within Bosnia.
The Croats are complaining of changes made by western organisers ahead of last November's general election, which they say discriminated against groups drawing support from a single ethnic community. Nationalist parties lost out to a reformist multi-ethnic coalition.
A big "no" from Zagreb
Croatian President Stipe Mesić has backed the international administrator. He told national radio that Jelavić "should have known that he could not issue the international community with an ultimatum." "Croatia must support the consistent implementation of the Dayton Peace Accords," Mesić stressed, saying "only after all refugees return to their homes and Bosnia starts to function as a state can further annexation be considered."
Mesić said that autonomy moves by Bosnian Croat nationalists were leading the Croat community into isolation. He also added that rushing to change the Dayton accords would onlylead to more so called "ethnic cleansing" which characterised the 1992-95 Bosnian war. The news magazine Globus agreed with the President, saying the threat to enact self-rule could destabilise Croatia by fuelling nationalist demands of its HDZ party, and could seriously affect Croatia's efforts to join the European Union.
War crimes from an earlier war
The Croatian government has launched a project to investigate war crimes committed during and after the end of the Second World War, according to Croatian radio. The Croatian Historical Institute has received funding for a new research department which will place "particular emphasis on the reasons and history of the Homeland War and victims of this war," said to Prime Minister Ivica Račan.
The government stated that all war crimes should be punished, and that this also applies to Second World War crimes. The government seems determined to bring a new kind of perspective on Croatia's history, including its Second World War independence and the more recent so-called Homeland War. Prime Minister Račan said not enough had been done to investigate war crimes committed during the modern period of national development.
Keeping the coast beautiful
Jutarnji List reported that mass tourism may destroy Croatian side of the Adriatic, quoting the World Wildlife Fund. Croatia has never been able to properly control the exploitation of its wonderful coastline by foreign tourists or companies, from the individual predations of Italian scuba divers, who have removed huge quantities of rare shells and indiscriminately spear-gunned fish species, to the building of large, concrete hotels filled by foreign tour operators.
Dan Damon, 12 March 2001
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