Miro Barešić

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Miro Barešić
Born (1950-09-10)10 September 1950
Šibenik, PR Croatia, FPR Yugoslavia
Died 31 July 1991(1991-07-31) (aged 40)
Croatia
Other names Toni Šarić, Tony Favik
Organization Croatian National Resistance[1]
Movement Croatian nationalism

Miro Barešić (10 September 1950 – 31 July 1991) was a Croatian citizen convicted for the murder of the Yugoslavian ambassador to Sweden in 1971 and later released as a demand made in the hijacking of a Scandinavian Airlines domestic flight.[2][3]

Early life[edit]

Miro Barešić was born on 10 September 1950 in Šibenik, People's Republic of Croatia, part of Federal People's Republic of Yugoslavia. In 1968, as was required by any 18-year-old, Barešić was called to attend military service in the Yugoslav People's Army. However, due to his political beliefs that 'the Croatian nation was deprived of any human rights', and because many of his relatives were killed by the communists, he refused the military service. As a result, he was sentenced to 6 months in the infamous Goli Otok prison. In 1969, after the completion of his prison term, he left Yugoslavia for Italy where he was linked with members of the Croatian National Resistance movement (Croatian: Hrvatski narodni odpor), who assisted him through Germany and ultimately Sweden.

In Sweden, Barešić associated with people connected with the Croatian National Resistance and other Croatian extreme nationalists and Barešić was very positive in the Swedish groups plans to start a new organization called The Black Legion (Croatian: Crna Legija) in Sweden, as a revolt against Yugoslavia.

Murder in the Yugoslav embassy[edit]

On 7 April 1971, Miro Barešić and his friend Anđelko Brajković drove in a rented car to Stockholm with 4 other partners involved in plotting an attack on the Yugoslav embassy in Sweden. The two men walked into the embassy and pretended to look at some visas in the reception. The Yugoslav ambassador to Sweden at the time was Vladimir Rolović, the former head of the Yugoslav Secret Police, UDBA. Once they saw Rolović near the reception they drew their guns, assaulted the ambassador and subdued him in his office. As Brajković tied Rolović to a chair with a rope around his hands and feet, and a belt around his throat, Barešić guarded the door while outside the building a mass of people, the media, police and paramedics arrived on the scene.

Barešić saw the police coming closer and the original plan to take the ambassador hostage was abandoned as they expected the police to storm the building. The two assailants heard the police moving in on the building and Brajković took his gun, put it in Rolović's mouth, and shot him in the head. The two men then surrendered to police. When being taken out from the murder scene in handcuffs the news teams of several media stations were filming the whole incident as Barešić kissed Brajković on his cheek and then began to yell "long live the Independent state of Croatia" and "long live Ante Pavelić" on the way to the parked police cars.

Vladimir Rolović died from his injuries a few days later. In 1971 Barešić and Brajković were convicted for his murder. They began serving their sentences at a Swedish high security prison.

Barešić's act of murder came in a time during the 1970s when many Yugoslav immigrants lived in Sweden, and many of them in fear of the remnants of the exiled Ustaša movement that had a network of Croatian terrorist groups and people in Europe. One example of one of these groups was the Croatian National Resistance, created and led until 1969 by Maks Luburić himself, a World War II war criminal who was the commandant of the Jasenovac concentration camp in the Independent State of Croatia. In Sweden, a series of death threats and acts of terror against Yugoslav immigrants had been committed by people associated with similar groups who were telling the police and the media that they were Ustashas and that they were going to kill Olof Palme and communists, blow up Yugoslavian clubs and government buildings with bombs.[citation needed] This was the reason why Barešić got an extreme amount of attention in the Swedish media during the time of his murder of the Yugoslav ambassador. The fact that his act of terror was the first in Sweden ever committed by a person of non-Swedish background also made it into the headlines in the media.

Release from prison to Spain[edit]

In 1972, both men were released as part of demand made by the hijackers of a domestic airline at Sweden's Bulltofta airport.

The hijackers managed to get the Swedish authorities to refuel the airplane and flew to Madrid. They surrendered themselves to the Spanish authorities once it was confirmed that Barešić was released from the Swedish prison and flown to Spain (then ruled by Francisco Franco). The hijackers served a short prison sentence and Barešić was later acquitted of any involvement in the hijacking and was released from Spanish custody after 19 months. During these 19 months, the Swedish authorities made no request to Spain for his extradition, despite the two countries having an extradition treaty with one another.

In Madrid, the two men came in contact with the then-Ambassador of Paraguay to Spain, Rodney Elpidio Acevedo, and were given papers to be able to move to Paraguay.[4] After his release, the Spanish and Paraguayan governments agreed that Barešić's life was in danger by the UDBA and arranged for Barešić to fly to Paraguay.

Life in Paraguay, jail time in Sweden[edit]

Barešić obtained a Paraguayan passport under a false names,[4] his new identity in Paraguay was "Toni Šarić". Under that name he joined the Paraguay armed forces and rose to become a captain. Barešić was a close combat trainer and a professional karate athlete.

In 1977, Barešić was employed by the Paraguayan foreign service as the bodyguard for the Paraguayan ambassador to the USA in Washington, D.C.[4] The US authorities discovered his real identity, which forced him to move back to Paraguay.[4]

After an extortion ring that targeted Yugoslav immigrants to the United States later came under scrutiny by American prosecutors, charges were brought against Barešić and he was extradited to face trial in New York.[4] The defendants were acquitted, but Barišić was deported to Sweden[when?] to serve the remainder of his life sentence there.[4]

In the Swedish book about the Swedish serial killer John Ausonius, who shot 11 immigrants, called "Lasermannen" it is stated that during his time in jail he met John Ausonius, who saw Barešić as a role model and could listen to Barešić telling stories about his life for hours.

His sentence was reduced from life down to 18 years in 1985.[4] Barešić was released in December 1987, and returned to Paraguay.[4]

Later life and death[edit]

When the Croatian War of Independence broke out in 1991, Barešić returned to Croatia from Paraguay, and led a unit subordinated to the Ministry of Defence, carrying out several sabotages in Zadar hinterland against the interests of the Yugoslav People's Army (JNA) and the SAO Krajina.[5]

He was killed in area of the village of Miranje Donje near Benkovac on 31 July 1991. His body was discovered by a civilian on 5 August and turned over to the Croatian police by the JNA two days later. Circumstances of his death are controversial and was the subject of a criminal inquest of 2002. The formal inquest was launched after Nikola Majstorović, author of a film dealing Barešić's death, filed a complaint with the Croatian State Attorney, and it concluded that Barešić was killed in an ambush prepared by the SAO Krajina special police. Two private investigators, on the other hand, concluded that Barešić was killed by one of men in his own unit, allegedly to cover up identities of former Yugoslav secret police agents who returned to Croatia since 1990 under guise of political dissidents before Barešić identified them.[6] A new formal inquest of the matter was launched by the State Attorney's Office in 2012.[7]

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