Wednesday August 27, 2008 7:30am WST
For Immediate Release
(Contact for 'Serbs for Justice': Ilija Glisic mobile [phone number posted])
"Project SafeCom extends its best wishes to Australian citizen Daniel Snedden (formerly known as Dragan Vasilykovic or "Capitan Dragan"), who served in the Serbian army during the Balkan war, for his appeal against an extradition demand by Croatia, which will be heard from today in the Federal Court in Sydney."
"I am honoured to have been asked to assist the campaign team of the Serbian community's advocacy group 'Serbs for Justice', and to be working on his case from Sydney in September and visit Daniel in prison," the group's spokesman Jack H Smit said.
"Mr Snedden, who lived in Perth before being incarcerated in maximum security in Parklea jail by former Attorney-General Phillip Ruddock without having committed any crimes in Australia, set up the largest Foundation for victims of the Balkan war while serving in the conflict, raising millions of dollars for citizens affected by the conflict, and he testified against Slobodan Milosevic in The International Criminal Court in The Hague, without wanting or needing immunity," Mr Smit said.
"Not only that, at the time Daniel testified in The Hague, the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia stated that it had no interest in mounting a war crimes case against him."
"It seems that only when The Australian newspaper published a lead article in September 2005 under the headline 'Serbian death squad commander alive and well and teaching golf in Perth' that interest by politicians in the Croatian government was roused, even while the Croatian police stated that he had been investigated and that no warrant for his arrest had been issued."
"The same reaction to The Australian article came from The Croatian Institute for War, which stated: 'we have investigated Captain Dragan thoroughly and we could not find anything which could be associated with war crimes against him or against the men under his command'."
"Mr Snedden has brought a still ongoing case for defamation against The Australian, and so far the court has ordered that the newspaper show truth in reporting around six out of ten points brought against the paper by him."
"The internet is now littered with allegations against Daniel Snedden, made by Croation representatives, many of these allegations also keenly without scrutiny rehashed and taken on as fact, also by Australian reporters."
"The level of reporting especially around alleged crimes committed by Mr Snedden is truly shocking, originating from hatred against his stature during the Balkan war by the Croats, and some Australian reporters who join in with this chorus should subject themselves to a right flogging," Mr Smit said.
"It seems that it's easier to mount a case in the Australian press, arguing that his jailer by discretion, former Attorney-General Phillip Ruddock, may have been unduly influenced by the Croatian community's large donations to the Liberal party, and that it's easier to mount a credible case that the Croatian community has long had a 'cosy deal' as a result of donations with the Howard government, but no Australian journalist has shown an interest in the question as to why Ruddock, under whose watch thousands of men, women and children were jailed in Immigration detention centres without a time limit, and under whose watch the Immigration Ombudsman found 250 cases of unlawful detention in these centres, and under whose watch a culture of 'lock-them-up and deport them' flourished in the Australian Immigration department, chose to throw another Australian citizen in maximum security jail just based on an extradition request by another nation," Mr Smit said.
"Perhaps it's time that reporters start asking the questions as to how the Ruddocks of this world can throw any citizen in jail in our country, even while they should have the presumption of innocence, and even while this incarceration is not based on any crime committed, but just on the whim of a politician, a politician who has been tainted through his shocking policies that saw thousands of refugees and asylum seekers locked up and psychologically damaged for life," Mr Smit concluded.
Jack H Smit
Project SafeCom Inc.
[phone number posted]