PROFILE OF GENERAL JANKO BOBETKO


Hina

ZAGREB, April 29 (Hina) - A Croatian general and politician, Janko Bobetko (aged 84), died on Tuesday at his Zagreb home due to the failure of circulatory and respiratory systems. He was an anti- fascist fighter in World War II and advocate of Croatian national interests in socialist Yugoslavia, a commander-in-chief in independent Croatia in the 1990s, and an indictee of the U.N. war crimes tribunal in The Hague in the last year of his life. Bobetko was born on 10 January 1919 in the village of Crnac near Sisak. He joined the partisan movement in 1941 as a student at the age of 21, and some 30 years later was forcibly sent into retirement as a Yugoslav People's Army (JNA) general for his participation in the "Croatian Spring" movement. After Croatia gained independence in 1990, Bobetko joined its army with which he participated in the liberation of Croatian areas occupied by Serb terrorists and the JNA.

After the Ustasha killed his father and three brothers he joined the partisan movement in 1941 to become a member of the first Sisak Partisan Unit, the first anti-fascist unit in Europe.

After the war, he completed the JNA's Military Academy, after which he held high army posts - from the head of the navy's political administration and head of logistics to the post of a chief-of- staff.

In 1966 he was appointed chief-of-staff and deputy commander of the 5th JNA district (Croatia and Slovenia) with the rank of a general. He was forced to retire along with 19 other Croat generals in 1972 due to advocacy of Croatian national interests. From 1972 to shortly before Croatia gained independence he was banned from holding public offices or making public statements.

After Croatia gained independence, Bobetko joined late Croatian President Franjo Tudjman, who on 10 April 1992 gave him a general's rank and appointed him commander of the southern Croatian front. Bobetko commanded the forces which carried out operations in the areas of Dubrovnik, Ploce and the Neretva River valley and liberated Dubrovnik and its hinterland.

At the end of the same year, on November 20, Bobetko was appointed Croatian Army Chief-of-Staff, replacing General Antun Tus. He held the post until his retirement on July 15, 1995. From 1995 until 1999 he was a deputy of the Croatian Democratic Union in parliament.

In 1996, retired General Janko Bobetko published a book, "Sve moje bitke" (unofficial translation All My Battles), in which he described events from Croatia's recent history. The book included documents and maps related to the military-police operations "Jackal" in Bosnia-Herzegovina near the border with southern Croatia, "Tiger" (the liberation of Dubrovnik), "Maslenica", "Medak Pocket", "Flash" and "Storm".

In September 2002 the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia indicted him for command and individual responsibility for war crimes committed in the 1993 "Medak Pocket" operation. Bobetko refused to receive the indictment and said he would not go to The Hague alive.