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"DRN" 2006 Obituary


DRNASIN 2006-11-29 published
Special Investigations Unit probes Croatian war hero's death
By Canadian Press, Wed., November 29, 2006
Toronto -- A makeshift memorial stands at a northwest Toronto intersection for a 32-year-old Croatian war hero whose death is being probed by the Special Investigations Unit.
Jasen DRNASIN -- his country's first graduate from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point -- was taken to hospital November 12 after an altercation on a city bus.
DRNASIN died yesterday in hospital and his father, Anton, believes his son's heart stopped because of excessive use of pepper spray during a confrontation with Toronto Transit Commission special constables and police officers.
About 100 people gathered at the roadside memorial of candles and flowers on the weekend in a show of support for DRNASIN.
Friends say he was also a Canadian citizen and served in the Canadian military when he was 16 or 17. He then moved to Croatia to fight in its civil war in the early 1990s, before graduating from West Point in 2000.
The Special Investigations Unit is also probing the death of a 33-year-old man who fell from a downtown Toronto hotel balcony.
Police received a call from an emotionally distraught man at the Delta Chelsea Hotel around 5: 30 a.m. yesterday.

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DRNASIN o@ca.on.york_county.toronto.globe_and_mail 2006-11-28 published
Croatian army hero dies after scuffle with officers
By Omar EL AKKAD, Page A20
A former Croatian army officer who became involved in an altercation with Toronto Transit Commission and police officers two weeks ago has succumbed to his injuries.
Jasen DRNASIN, 32, died yesterday afternoon at Humber River Regional Hospital, the province's Special Investigations Unit confirmed. He had been in the hospital -- in critical condition -- since the incident.
Mr. DRNASIN became a military hero in Croatia after becoming the first citizen of that country to graduate from the prestigious West Point military academy in the U.S.
That fame turned to infamy a few years ago after Mr. DRNASIN was charged in Croatia with stabbing his girlfriend.
The Special Investigations Unit continues to investigate Mr. DRNASIN's death.

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DRNASIN o@ca.on.york_county.toronto.toronto_star 2006-11-28 published
Pepper-sprayed Croatian soldier dies
Friend who says DRNASIN was 'black and blue' after altercation on Toronto Transit Commission bus doubts that spray alone was the cause of his death
By Phinjo GOMBU, Staff Reporter
A Croatian soldier who was pepper-sprayed by Toronto Transit Commission special constables following an altercation on a bus this month has died.
Jasen DRNASIN, 32, a Croatian war hero and the country's first graduate from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, was taken to hospital on November 12 in critical condition after an altercation on a bus in the Eglinton Ave. W. and Royal York Rd. area.
DRNASIN reportedly showed signs of improvement a few days later but died yesterday afternoon around 2: 40 p.m. at Humber Regional Hospital.
DRNASIN's father Anton said earlier that his son suffered from post-traumatic stress as a result of military service in Croatia. He said he had been told that his son's heart may have stopped because of the excessive use of pepper spray.
He said at the time he was angry and did not think his son deserved to be pepper-sprayed but has not spoken publicly since.
At least seven Toronto police officers also responded to the disturbance. The incident is under investigation by the province's Special Investigations Unit, which probes circumstances involving police and civilians that result in death or serious injury.
Friends of the Croatian-born DRNASIN, who was also a Canadian citizen but moved back to Croatia as a teenager, said they don't believe he died just as a result of being pepper-sprayed.
"This isn't a case of someone having a bad reaction to pepper spray," said Ranko PLEJIC, who has known DRNASIN since he was 10 and was his soccer coach.
When PLEJIC -- who along with others held a vigil for DRNASIN last week -- spoke to the Star he said DRNASIN was "black and blue over every part of his body."
"The whole pepper spray story, I think, is secondary. This man was severely beaten, he's actually missing parts of flesh on his throat. This man was beaten… His bladder catheter is strictly pouring out blood. He's unrecognizable," said PLEJIC.
PLEJIC also said that while DRNASIN may have gone to fight in Croatia as a young man, he wanted to stress that he remained a Canadian.
He said DRNASIN also served in the Canadian military when he was 16 or 17.
Not long after his military service here DRNASIN moved to Croatia to fight in its civil war in the early 1990s. He later went on to graduate from West Point in 2000, the first Croatian soldier to do so.
A year later, things went tragically wrong when he was charged with stabbing his girlfriend Tanja Milanovic several times while under the influence of drugs.
The case, according to Croatian news reports, brought out in the open stories about rampant drug use in the Croatian army during the preceding decade.
PLEJIC said that DRNASIN, an engineer by training, had been back in Canada since September and was looking to make some money here.
DRNASIN's wife, from whom he was estranged, and his 18-month-old daughter flew to Toronto from Croatia after he was hospitalized.

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