Defence Minister Damir Krsticevic commented on a war crime complaint filed against him in Serbia, saying that his war past was completely clean but that he was a thorn in the side of many because he was strengthening the victorious Croatian army.
Speaking to reporters in Split on Saturday, Krsticevic said the journey of the 4th guard brigade was one of "pride, honour, heroism."
"The Red Berets did everything they should in the Homeland War. I'm extremely happy to have commanded the 4th Brigade."
Belgrade's Politika newspaper reported in its Saturday issue that Serbian lawyer Dusan Bratic pressed charges against Krsticevic and others on suspicion that they killed 81 Serb civilians in 1995. The paper said Krsticevic was the commander of the Croatian army's 4th brigade and that it participated in the shelling of columns of Serb refugees in Bravnice near Jajce, Bosnia and Herzegovina on 12 and 13 September 1995.
Asked if he thought he would have movement trouble because of the charges, Krsticevic said he was a free person.
"Why? Because of which complaint? I don't consider that a complaint. I'm a free man and I honourably defended the homeland. I'm extremely proud of that and one should know that Croatia was subjected to brutal aggression and I proudly commanded the 4th brigade."
Krsticevic said many "want to smear" that brigade and him as its commander. "I repeat, I'm completely clean and innocent."
Asked if he had been at the location near Jajce mentioned in the criminal complaint, he said "it is known where the 4th guard brigade was, and it was liberating Croatia." He said the brigade was not in Bravnice on 12 and 13 September 1995.
Krsticevic also said he had no idea why someone was bringing this up, "evidently with the objective to destabilise me personally (and) this government." He added that he had no reason to defend himself.
Asked if there was a way to respond to the criminal complaint, he said: "The state should respond. As for my response, I'm here, doing my job."