O'Farrell defends alleged criminal

Accused: Captain Dragan Vasiljkovic.
Accused: Captain Dragan Vasiljkovic.

STATE Opposition leader Barry O’Farrell has come under fire for lobbying the State Government in defence of alleged Serbian war criminal, Captain Dragan Vasiljkovic.

The former paramilitary leader who was living in East Boambee until recently, has been held in Silverwater Jail awaiting possible extradition to Croatia since his arrest in May, after 43 days on the run.

Once again the highly publicised extradition case has been played out in the headlines. Metropolitan media reported that Mr O’Farrell wrote a letter to Corrective Services Minister Phil Costa, complaining about the treatment of Vasiljkovic in prison.

The Australian High Court recently decided there was a case for Vasiljkovic, otherwise known as Daniel Snedden, to be extradited to face war crime charges.

NSW Treasurer Eric Roozendaal yesterday called on Mr O’Farrell to explain his actions.

“This is a total lack of judgment on behalf of the leader of the Liberal Party,” Mr Roozendaal said. “This man has been accused of torture, genocide, crimes against humanity and systematic rape.

Mr O’Farrell wrote of accusations that Vasiljkovic was ‘being shackled, lights on 24 hours a day, only one blanket, no exercise and limited visitation’.

The concerns were raised with Home Affairs who advised that the NSW Department of Corrective Services was responsible for prison conditions.

“A constituent wrote to me alleging mistreatment in a NSW prison,” Mr O’Farrell said. “As a Member of Parliament I was obliged to pass it on for investigation by the relevant authorities. I passed no judgment on the individual concerned or the allegations made against him.” Vasiljkovic, 55, an Australian-born Serb, returned to Bosnia in 1990s to serve in the Balkans War.

After the conflict he lived in Perth under the alias of Daniel Snedden. He came to the Coffs Coast and was housed by supporters after he skipped an extradition hearing in Canberra.

Tailed by federal police, he was captured at the Harwood Slipway.

Croatian authorities want to see Vasiljkovic face a War Crimes Tribunal.

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