Milan Levar (1954 - 2000)

He chose to testify against his own army about crimes committed against civilians

Milan Levar was born in Gospić, Croatia, where he worked as a mechanic.

During the war, he served as a commanding officer in the Croatian Army's reconnaissance and sabotage team and in the Gospić surveillance and interception center. He repeatedly refused to carry out orders that contravened fundamental human values and his own moral and personal convictions.

At the end of the conflict, in 1997, he decided to testify before the Hague Tribunal about the war crimes committed by the Croatian Army against civilians, mainly ethnic Serbs, in Gospić. Levar recounted everything he had witnessed, such as the meeting with Tihomir Orešković, secretary of the Lika crisis unit, and Croatian army general Mirko Norac: "Dead people, with their throats cut, were lying on the floor, and the meeting was held in the midst of all that blood. I am of the view that Norac and Orešković were the ones who gave the orders and committed war crimes." The two were later found guilty and sentenced to 15 and 12 years in prison, respectively.

ollowing this testimony, the ICC asked the Croatian government to place him under protection, but the government refused to do so. Levar has always refused to change his identity or leave Gospić. His choice led to numerous death threats against him and his family members, including from neighbors.

On August 28, 2000, Levar was killed by a bomb placed in the courtyard of his machine shop in Gospić.
His death turned into a reminder of how incapable Croatia was of dealing with the past and the memory of war. To this day, his killers have not been identified.

In August 2020, twenty years after his killing, a memorial ceremony was organized in Gospić, with the attendance of his widow Vesna and the Center for Confrontation with the Past (Documenta - Centar za suočavanje s prošlošću) in Zagreb. "Milan Levar knew what he was doing: - it was said during the commemoration - he wanted to talk about what he saw, despite a national code of silence in place". 

For his actions, Milan Levar was awarded the Duško Kondor Civil Courage Award in 2014.

This biography is taken from the archive of Duško Kondor Award for Civil Courage. We would like to thank Svetlana Broz for providing the material to the editorial staff.

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