The unveiling of Tudjman’s monument in 2018. Photo: Antonio Bat/EPA.
A misdemeanours court in Zagreb on Wednesday sentenced Erceg to 15 days in prison and gave him a one-year ban from approaching the monument to Croatia’s first President Franjo Tudjman over the incident at its unveiling.
“The judge gave me a longer sentence than the police had asked for; they called for 10 days [in prison], I got 15,” Erceg told the regional TV station N1.
He said that the judge refused to read out an explanation of the verdict, saying it would be sent by mail.
Croatian state officials attended the unveiling of the monument to Tudjman in December 2018, praising his contribution to the country’s independence, but some opposition and rights groups protested, denouncing his record.
Erceg attended the unveiling, and while Croatia’s Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic was passing by, he shouted: “How are you not ashamed to erect a monument to this criminal?”
Right after his sentencing, Erceg went to the Tudjman monument, followed by journalists, where he repeated his claim that Tudjman was a war criminal.
“I am not ashamed of my opinions,” Erceg said, according to the Croatian newspaper Jutarnji list.
In another incident in January 2019, a man was detained by police for daubing hammer-and-sickle graffiti on the base of the monument.
Croatian leftist parties and NGOs staged a rally in protest against the arrest, calling it political repression.
Some critics have accused Tudjman of presiding over serious violations of human rights and corrupt privatisations while in office in the 1990s, as well as accusing him of being part of a joint criminal enterprise along with Bosnian Croat officials during the war in neighbouring Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Six wartime officials of the unrecognised Croat-led statelet of Herzeg-Bosnia in wartime Bosnia and Herzegovina were convicted by the Hague Tribunal in 2017 of participating in a joint criminal enterprise with Tudjman and other senior Croatian officials with the aim of persecuting Bosniaks.