Representatives of veterans of the 1991-95 war who have been protesting outside the Veterans Affairs Ministry said on Thursday that Veterans Minister Mijo Crnoja should step down if state institutions proved that he had violated the law, or they would ask Crnoja to step down or Prime Minister Tihomir Oreskovic to replace him.
Addressing a news conference, the protesters' representatives Drazen Jukic, Djuro Glogoski and Josip Klemm called for putting an end to "the media lynching campaign" against Crnoja, stressing that war veterans supported him, but that if he was found to be responsible for what he was accused of, they would ask him to step down.
Commenting on a protest against the decision of the Electronic Media Council to temporarily revoke the broadcasting licence of Zagreb's Z1 television channel on Wednesday, Klemm said that veterans did not take part in the protest to insult Croatian Serbs or anyone else, but to give support to reporters.
Klemm also said that war veterans were not in favour of "a register of traitors", which is advocated by Crnoja, but that they were in favour of punishing crimes.
"I won't say that someone might have infiltrated the protest to shout inappropriate messages, but I can say that veterans distance themselves from the World War II salute," Klemm said in reference to the "For the Homeland Ready!" military salute of the WWII Nazi-styled Independent State of Croatia that could be heard at the rally.
He dismissed reports that veterans might rebel against a decision to replace Crnoja, adding that they had no intention of getting involved in the case.
Speaking about a recent meeting between war veterans and Parliament Speaker Zeljko Reiner, Klemm said: "We have told the Parliament Speaker that there are short and long-term problems (burdening the veteran community) and until those problems are tackled, we will remain here (outside the ministry)," Klemm said.