Respects Paid to Victims of Ovčara Massacre

Total Croatia News

Another day, another sad anniversary in Vukovar.

On Sunday, the Association of Children of Killed and Missing Croatian War Veterans remembered victims of the mass grave at Ovčara near Vukovar, where it honoured 264 soldiers and civilians taken from the Vukovar hospital in 1991 and killed at the largest execution site in Vukovar, where 200 bodies were exhumed, while the remains of the rest of those killed are still missing, reports on November 20, 2016.

“This is the ninth memorial walk which pays tribute to victims of terrible crimes at Ovčara, and we again want to send a message that it is necessary to find out the truth about all 931 missing persons from the Homeland War”, said Sandra Milić, the president of the Association. One of the participants of the memorial walk was Veterans Affairs Minister Tomo Medved who said that Vukovar will not left alone. “It is the responsibility of all of us, especially in relation to the families, that missing persons are found and that the perpetrators are punished for their terrible crimes”, said Medved.

Mayor of Vukovar Ivan Penava stressed that the walk connected two mass graves, one at the Memorial Cemetery in Vukovar and the other at Ovčara, and in that way it paid tribute to the victims of the aggression on Vukovar in 1991 and of the crimes committed against the city and its people. “We must be proud of what all Croatian veterans did, especially those in Vukovar”, said Penava.

The Ovčara massacre was the killing of Croatian prisoners of war and civilians by Serb paramilitaries and the Yugoslav People’s Army (JNA) at the Ovčara farm southeast of Vukovar on 20 November 1991. The massacre occurred shortly after Vukovar’s capture by the JNA and paramilitaries. It was the largest massacre of the war and the worst war crime in Europe since World War II up until that point.

In the final days of the battle for Vukovar, the evacuation of the Vukovar hospital was negotiated between Croatian authorities, the JNA and the International Committee of the Red Cross. The JNA subsequently refused the ICRC access to the hospital despite the agreement and removed approximately 300 people from its premises. The group was transported to the Ovčara farm south of Vukovar. Once at the farm, the prisoners were beaten for several hours before the JNA pulled its troops from the site, leaving the prisoners in the custody of Serbian paramilitaries. The prisoners were then taken to a prepared site, shot in groups of ten to twenty and buried in a mass grave.

The mass grave was discovered in October 1992, and in 1996, 200 sets of remains were exhumed from the grave by International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) investigators. The ICTY convicted two JNA officers in connection with the massacre, and also tried former Serbian President Slobodan Milošević for a number of war crimes, including those committed at Vukovar. Milošević died in prison before his trial could be completed. Several former members of the Croatian Serb forces and Serbian paramilitary units have been tried by the Serbian judiciary and convicted for their involvement in the massacre.


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