27 years since murder of Serb Zec family in Zagreb

Friday marks 27 years since the killing of the Serb family of Zec in Zagreb, who were executed by the reserve units of the Croatian Ministry of Internal Affairs under the command of Tomislav Mercep, reports Centre Veritas.

On December 7, 1991 they executed Mihajlo Zec /38/, his wife Marija /36/ and their 12-year-old daughter Aleksandra.

At Mercep’s orders, Miro Bajramovic ordered the unit members Igor Mikola, Sinisa Rimac, Nebojsa Hodak and Snjezana Zivanovic to take the Serb Mihajlo Zec into custody over his alleged connections with Krajina Serbs.

During the arrest, at around 11 p.m., Zec was killed by Sinisa Rimac outside his house in the Poljanicka Street at Tresnjevka while he was allegedly trying to get away.

After Mihajlo’s murder, Munib Suljic returned to Mihajlo’s house and took his wife Marija and daughter Aleksandra.

Suljic first took them to Hotel Panorama and then to Sljeme where he killed them with a fire weapon, and then ordered the other members of the unit to throw the bodies in a waste pit and bury them.

A few days later, the bodies were found by Marija’s brother Zlatko Mesic, who was a member of the Croatian Ministry of Internal Affairs himself.

The other two children of the Zec family, Gordana and Dusan, managed to survive as they hid in the house and the killers did not find them, reads a press release.

Killers of the Zec family were soon found and arrested, and in the preliminary criminal investigation they admitted to the murders and took the police to the place where they buried the victims.

For the crime they were reported for before the hearing, mandatory presence of a defence attorney was not provided for in the preliminary criminal investigation.

However, when the crime was shed light on, the crime was re-qualified and the perpetrators remained silent during the investigation as advised by their defence attorneys, which was why the previous statements were excluded from the file as illegal and the proceeding was suspended “due to lack of evidence”.

Under the pressure of the international community, the Croatian government issued a decision in April 2004 to grant the killed Mihajlo and Marija Zec’s children Gordana and Dusan EUR200,000 for their costs of living, since they lost both their parents and were minors without any financial support.

The County Court in Zagreb issued a first-instance judgement in May 2016 sentencing Tomislav Mercep, the then commander of the Croatian Ministry of Internal Affairs reserve unit stationed in Pakracka Poljana and at the Zagrebacki velesajam /Zagreb Fairground/ and advisor to the Ministry, to five and a half years in prison.

He was convicted for “failing to prevent his subordinates from performing illegal arrests, abuse and killing of 31 civilians brought from Zagreb, Kutina, Ribnjak, Janja Lipa, Bujavica, Medjurici, Zbjegovaca and Pakracka Poljana, 23 of whom were killed,” and among them were Mihajlo, Gordana and Aleksandra Zec.

Twenty victims the court was unable to determine who had arrested and killed them were not included in the judgment.

The Supreme Court modified the judgement from February 2017 into the first-instance judgement by increasing the sentence to seven years in prison, which Mercep occasionally “serves” in an elite spa Krapinske Toplice instead of in a prison cell.