Veterans Unhappy with Judicial Handling of War Crimes

Total Croatia News

ZAGREB, Jan 15, 2018 – During Monday’s ceremonies marking the 26th anniversary of the international recognition of Croatia and the 20th anniversary of the completion of peaceful reintegration of the country’s eastern areas, local authorities and war veterans expressed dissatisfaction with the prosecution of war crimes, underlining that the peaceful reintegration would be over only after all war criminals were brought to justice and Serbia paid war damages.

Comments along these lines were prompted by a recent ruling made by the Belgrade Appeals Court that upheld prison sentences ranging from five to 20 years for eight persons accused of war crimes at Ovcara, Croatia in 1991, while acquitting four due to lack of evidence or contradictory witness testimonies. The court released the rulings on its website on Saturday.

After a wreath-laying ceremony at the memorial cemetery in Vukovar on Monday morning, Mayor Ivan Penava said that it was shameful that only eight people were found responsible for the mass execution of 260 people at Ovcara, a farm outside Vukovar, where they were killed after the town fell into the hands of Serb paramilitaries supported by the Yugoslav People’s Army in November 1991.

Penava criticised the Croatian judiciary for being inactive in prosecuting war crimes.

A representative of former inmates of Serb-run concentration camps, Danijel Rehak, said that it was odd that the institutions of the Croatian state had not instigated proceedings for atrocities carried out against Croatian citizens on Croatian soil.

Rehak also recalled that during the international recognition of Croatia, Croatians detained in Serb-run camps were subjected to intensified torture at that time.

In reference to the verdicts delivered by the Serbian judicial authorities for war crimes in Vukovar, war veteran Vlado Iljkic said that “it is a shame that Croatia has not prosecuted war crimes perpetrated on its soil.”

War veteran and former inmate of the Serb-run concentration camps Predrag Misic said that “unfortunately, the peaceful reintegration will not be fully implemented as long as war criminals are not punished and war damages paid.”

He described the Belgrade court’s judgment as a continuation of Serbian aggression” and called on Belgrade to admit to having conducted aggression and to say what happened to those still unaccounted for since the war.

The Belgrade Appeals Court’s war crimes department delivered the judgment on 24 November 2017, upholding the trial verdict of 20 years’ imprisonment each for Miroljub Vujovic, Stanko Vujanovic, Predrag Milojevic and Goran Mugosa.

The sentence for Nada Kalaba was increased to 11 years’ imprisonment, while Ivan Atanasijevic’s was reduced to 15 years. The Court reduced the 20-year sentences for Miroslav Djankovic and Sasa Radak to five years each for crimes against POWs.

Jovica Peric, Milan Vojnovic, Milan Lancuzanin and Predrag Dragovic were acquitted of war crimes against POWs for lack of evidence, while the case against Djordje Sosic was dropped because he died during the appeal proceedings.

The trial verdict delivered by the Belgrade District Court’s panel for war crimes on 12 March 2009 sentenced Vujovic, Vujanovic, Atanasijevic, Milojevic, Sosic, Djankovic and Radak to 20 years’ imprisonment each for war crimes against POWs, Vojnovic was sentenced to 15 years, Peric to 13, Kalaba to nine, Lancuzanin to six, and Mugosa and Dragovic to five years’ imprisonment each.

The Appeals Court considered appeals to the trial verdict for the second time. On 14 September 2010, it had upheld most of the sentences.

Serbian prosecutors accused 20 persons of participating in the murder of 193 POWs at Ovcara farm near Vukovar in eastern Croatia on 21 November 1991, of whom 15 were sentenced to a total of 207 years’ imprisonment and five were acquitted prior to the appeals proceedings.


Subscribe to our newsletter

the fields marked with * are required
Email: *
First name:
Last name:
Gender: Male Female
Please don't insert text in the box below!

Leave a Comment