EIGHTEEN YEARS – SO LONG HAS PASSED SINCE I HEARD ABOUT THE DEATHS OF OLOV BORÉN AND ROBERT KARLSTRÖM.
I will never forget that rainy February morning.
“JACKIE ARKLÖV, A FORMER HVO SOLDIER, WHO WAS FOUND GUILTY IN 1995 BY THE HIGHER COURT IN MOSTAR FOR WAR CRIMES COMMITTED IN HERZEGOVINIAN DETENTION CAMPS DRETELJ AND GABELA, YESTERDAY WAS SENTENCED FOR LIFE IN PRISON AT THE NORKÖPPING DISTRICT COURT IN SWEDEN, FOR THE MURDER OF TWO POLICEMEN, OLOV BORÉN AND ROBERT KARLSTRÖM AT MALEXANDER IN ÖSTERGÖTLAND ON MAY 28, 1999 … “
This is what I have read in the newspapers while drinking coffee on Feićeva Street.
I couldn’t believe my eyes, but again, I knew that all was true, not because the newspapers wrote about it, but because it seemed so impossible to me.
Suddenly I got panicked.
I looked at the girl who was changing the ashtray on the table, unconscious of the disgust her rough, swollen, almost nail-free fingers provoked in me just a few seconds earlier
I was barely able to pay the bill, roll the newspapers and go outside.
THE BIRTH OF A NAZI
Story of Jackie Arklöv, former soldier of the special unit of the HVO “Ludvig Pavlovic” and a member of the Swedish Neo-Nazi Movement “National Republican Army”, begins in the capital of Liberia, in Monrovia in 1973.
His mother Betty gave him to the orphanage after leaving the man she lived with, an American named Joe, of whom is only known that he was a security officer in that African country.
According to Swedish journalist and writer Michaela Sandelina, who wrote the book “Den Svarte Nazisten” (“The Black Nazi”) about Arklöv, Jackie’s real name was Dzei Bar. At the age of two, this little Liberian boy was adopted by a married couple from Ankarsund, a small village in the Västerbottens region in northern Sweden.
Little Dzei Bar, from now on known by his adoptive name Jackie Arklöv grew up in the family that sought to provide everything that a child needed for normal childhood, but he also realized very early that life among people with different skin color is everything but beautiful and idyllic.
„NIGGER“, „BLACK BASTARD“, „COTTON PICKER“, ARE JUST SOME OF THE BAD NAMES OTHER KIDS WERE CALLING HIM AT SCHOOL.
Brutish and ruthless by nature, he responded with fists, and when he realized that he was physically superior to most of them, he himself began to provoke fights, which is why he very early came under the supervision of social workers.
The author of the book “Smärtpunkten” (“A Bad Place”) about killings in Malexander, a Swedish journalist Elisabeth Ǻsbrink, with whom I had a chance to talk to a few years back, is convinced that this pretty traumatic experiences from childhood in many ways influenced what Jackie Arklöv would later become.
As a teenager, Arklöv began reading war themed books. He was particularly enthusiastic and moved by those about the Second World War. There he first encountered Nazi ideology, which he later fully accepted and followed, despite his origin and skin color.
As he himself stated, liking Hitler and his ideas at first came from a completely different reason: he taught at school that he should hate the Nazis, and he, the rebel as he was, started feeling affection towards them.
Those were the years when he was easily identifying with everything that others around him considered wrong and undesirable.
His obsession with war and military life will take him first to the Swedish army, in Arvidsjaur, and then to the legionary commune of Aubagne, in the south of France, from where he will travel to Zagreb during the Homeland War in Croatia, intending to fight on the Croatian side army.
By the end of 1992, he will reach reach Čapljina, where he will join the HVO units. There begins Akrlov’s war story, which will result in tens of tortured and killed, mostly Bosniak and Serb civilians, and captured soldiers in villages near Čapljina, Dubrava plateau, and Dretelj and Gabela detention camps.
“Jackie Arklöv had his own methods,” Osman Eminovic, one of Arklöv’s victims, told me a few years ago.
“HE LOVED TO BEAT PEOPLE WITH THE HOSE OF THE FIRE EXTINGUISHER. HOWEVER, HE ALSO USED EVERYTHING ELSE THAT WAS WITHIN HIS HAND REACH – A HANDLE OF A GUN, BUTT OF A PISTOL, PIECES OF FURNITURE… I WITNESSED WHEN HE HIT SMAJO MESIĆ FROM VIŠIĆI WITH A SHOVEL IN THE BACK OF THE HEAD, CAUSING HIM TO INSTANTLY LOSE CONSCIOUSNESS. AS HE LAID THERE, BLOOD POURING FROM HIS HEAD, ARKLÖV CONTINUED TO BEAT HIM. I DON’T HOW SMAJO SURVIVED… “
Osman Eminovic was beaten by Arklöv several times. Arklöv usually beat him with the hose of a fire extinguisher.
“The hose has a clamp at the top, and when it hits you, it literally knocks the meat from the bone,” he told me.
“I do not remember how many times he has beaten me. I would have normally been knocked down on the ground after the first blow, and I stayed there, not having the strength to come up. “
Ahmet Cernica was an officer of RBIH Army and, just like Osman Eminovic, one of the constant Arklöv victims during of Jackie’s stay in the Gabela prison camp.
He spent exactly 333 days in the camps of so-called Herceg-Bosna, and he never recovered from “close encounters” with Arklöv.
“One day, Arklöv came with a few of his comrades and, together with a few more detainees, took me out,” he told me.
“It was summer, noon, heat … It was pleasant to go outside of the camp just to get rid of the smell of feces and urine, because in camp we were forced to shit and piss in the same room where we ate and slept. The problem was that you never knew, where there are taking you. Maybe execution… Maybe beating. Maybe just work.. “
On that day, detainees were taken to work at the Gabela Barracks, where they wrestled and bore military beds all day. When the job was done, Cernica was taken to the bathroom.
“They pushed me under the showers and then started to beat me. This trick was often used in the camp: when cold water hits the body, the body can last longer in a state of consciousness. At the same time, it means that you have to bear the pain longer. You are suffering longer. And that’s what they wanted: for us to suffer. “
Arklöv also beat him with a hose, his special tool.
“The blow from the hose hurts at least ten times more than when someone hits you with a club. I am talking from experience, i felt both”, he told me.
Arklöv once started to beat him with hands and legs, but then continued with a hose knocking him unconscious to the point that he was clinically dead.
“LONG AGO, AS A YOUNG MAN, I HEARD ABOUT IT: WHEN THE HEART STOPS KNOCKING, THE SOUL LEAVES THE BODY.”
“And, indeed, that is true. At that moment I watched my body from some height. I watched how he strikes me, stomps on me, and I felt nothing, no pain, as if all of this was happening to someone else, not me. Afterwards, the other campers took my body and threw it on the truck. I was watching it all from up high. I saw the flies on my bloody face. I saw sharp edges of my bones bursting through my skin. Then there was darkness. Complete darkness. “
I interviewed Cernica and Eminovic for the needs of a novel I am writing, with working title “Nothing easier than dying”.
I saw Jackie Arklöv, this unusual young man, just three years older than me, only once, on May 1, 1995: he was in the uniform of the HVO, his hands were handcuffed and his face filled with fear.
He was reliving the fate of his victims – brought to military prison to spend the night, he was helpless, left at the mercy of enemy soldiers, with little prospect of survival or, at the very least, with slim chances of getting away without some serious consequences.
HE WAS ARRESTED FEW HOURS EARLIER IN ALEKSA ŠANTIĆ’S STREET WHEN HE MISTAKENLY FELL INTO HANDS OF POLICEMEN WHO SECURED THE SEPARATION LINES IN THE CENTRAL CITY ZONE. HE WAS DRUNK AND COMPLETELY “COKED-UP”.
He was immediately taken to the nearest police station, and after brief consultations of civilian and military authorities, he was forwarded to the military police unit where I was recruited one year earlier.
When he was arrested, he had a photograph in his shirt pocket that showed some man, presumably one of his victims from the camp, performing fellatio on him.
On the same day, late afternoon, while I was standing with my colleague in front of the improvised Arklöv’s cell, a soldier arrived. The broad rim of a straw hat was hiding his eyes; on the shoulder he was wearing a Kalashnikov.
HE PULLED OUT A BOX OF CIGARETTES AND KINDLY OFFERED US A CIGARETE. HE DID NOT INTRODUCE HIMSELF; HE ONLY ASKED THAT WE GIVE HIM FIVE MINUTES ALONE WITH ARKLÖV.
“With whom?” I asked. “With Arklöv,” he repeated and clarified, “The black man you arrested today.”
My colleague explained that this was not possible and asked him to leave, but he pulled out the rifle, threatening to kill us if we I don’t give him what he is asking for.
Later, after we were able to calm him down, he took off his vest and shirt and showed us the scar on his left shoulder.
“This is from your protégé,” he said. “He broke the meat from me in the camp and made me eat it.”
Five years after that event, I have read in the newspaper that Jackie Arklöv was convicted for murdering two cops at the Swedish resort of Malexander.
FIVE OR SIX YEARS LATER AFTER THAT, WHEN I HAVE DECIDED TO WRITE A BOOK ABOUT IT, I STARTED TO LOOK FOR THAT MAN WITH A SCAR ON THE LEFT SHOULDER, THE MAN WHO ATE HIS OWN MEAT, NOT OUT OF THE FEAR OF DEATH (AS FAR AS I WAS TOLD BY THE DETAINEES, DEATH WAS SEEN AS A RELIEF) BUT BECAUSE HE FEARED MORE GRUESOME AND EVEN MORE TERRIBLE TORTURE.
I checked all the testimonies from all the witnesses in the Arklöv’s trial at the Mostar Court…
…talked to hundreds of detainees and a few of his victims, searched trough the archives of all the armed brigades in Herzegovina, examined pictures of the victims and missing people, but nowhere did I find any trace that would reveal the identity of that mysterious man..
His face keeps coming back to me ever since that day I first heard the name of Jackie Arklöv.
After I later found out how Jackie executed Olof Boren and Robert Karlström, I will become obsessed with this man, obsessed so much that I will have nightmares…
…nightmares from which I will be waking up covered in sweat and with my heart loudly pounding.
Even if the majority of stories I heard about Jackie were exaggerated, the very thought that so horrible stories were being talked about him, tells me that he was a person who in his bestiality surpasses the worst of the war criminals.