In the ruling No. K-58/05 of 4 December 2008, the criminal procedure No. K-58/05 conducted before the Vukovar County Court against the defendant Vlado Tepavac for a war crime against civilians referred to in Article 120, paragraph 1 of the Basic Criminal Law of the RoC (hereinafter: the OKZ RH) was suspended. Previously, the Vukovar County State’s Attorney’s Office (hereinafter: the ŽDO) filed a submission on 21 November 2008 in which it changed the factual description, legal description and legal qualification of the criminal act (into the criminal act of armed rebellion). By applying the provision of Article 2, paragraph 2 of the General Amnesty Act, the procedure against the defendant was suspended.
The defendant Vlado Tepavac was indicted that on 19 November 1991 in Borovo Naselje, after the so-called JNA and chetnik paramilitary forces entered Borovo Naselje having broken the resistance of the defenders, as a member of paramilitary formations, near the building of Borovo Commerce factory, contrary to Article 3, paragraph 1, item 1a of the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, he approached a group of already singled out civilians. Then he grabbed Petar Drejić by his chest, dragged him out of the group and beat him up with his fists. By doing so, having violated the principles of the international humanitarian law during an armed conflict, he inhumanely treated civilian population, caused them huge suffering and inflicted injuries against their physical integrity, whereby he committed a war crime against civilians, described and punishable pursuant to Article 120, paragraph 1 of the OKZ RH.
Vukovar County Court
Case number: K-58/05
War Crimes Council: Judge Nikola Bešenski, Council President; Judge Slavko Teofilović, Council member; Judge Stjepan Margić, Council member
Indictment: No. DT-298/92 of 28 December 1995 (issued by the Osijek ŽDO), case transferred to the Vukovar ŽDO, No. K-DO-37/04 of 19 July 2004
Prosecuting attorney: Vlatko Miljković, Deputy Vukovar County State’s Attorney
Criminal act: war crime against civilians, Article 120, paragraph 1 of the OKZ RH
Defendant: Vlado Tepavac
Defence counsel: Vojislav Ore, a lawyer practising in Vukovar
Victim – beaten up: Petar Drejić
The Osijek ŽDO instigated the indictment No. KT-298/92 of 28 December 1995 against Milan Gojković, Dragan Lapčević, Vlado Tepavac and Veso Praća due to war crime against civilians committed on 19 November 1991 in Borovo Naselje.
The Osijek County Court passed a verdict No. K-6/96 on 4 December 1996 in which Milan Gojković, Dragan Lapčević, Vlado Tepavac and Veso Praća were found guilty of war crime against civilians referred to in Article 120, paragraph 1 of the OKZ RH. The defendant Milan Gojković received a joint sentence in the duration of 20 years, while the defendants Dragan Lapčević, Vlado Tepavac and Veso Praća were sentenced to five years in prison.
You can read that verdict here. (in Croatian)
The verdict became final on 27 February 1997.
The ruling of the Osijek County Court No. Kv-447/99 of 10 December 1999, suspended criminal proceedings against the defendant Dragan Lapčević after the Osijek ŽDO in the re-opened procedure and prior to the beginning of the main hearing, in a submission No. KT-298/92 of 9 September 1999, abandoned criminal prosecution against him. The aforementioned ruling quashed the verdict of the Osijek County Court No. K-6/96 of 4 December 1996 in the part pertaining to Dragan Lapčević, in which he had been found guilty and sentenced to five years in prison.
You can read the ruling of the Extra-Trial Chamber of the Osijek County Court on the suspension of the proceedings against Dragan Lapčević here. (in Croatian)
Upon his return to the Republic of Croatia, Vlado Tepavac was arrested. Proceedings against him were re-opened.
You can read the ruling on the re-opening of the proceedings here. (in Croatian)
In the re-opened procedure, the Vukovar County Court passed a verdict No. 36/04 on 28 September 2004 by which the verdict of the Osijek County Court No. K6/96 of 4 December 1996 was partially annulled in relation to the defendant Vlado Tepavac. In the quoted verdict of the Vukovar County Court, the defendant was acquitted of charges. The Vukovar ŽDO lodged an appeal against that verdict.
The Supreme Court of the Republic of Croatia quashed the acquitting verdict and reversed the case for a re-trial.
The re-opened procedure, conducted for the second time, was supposed to start on 18 December 2006, but the defendant did not appear before the court. Police employees received an order to summon the defendant to a new court hearing which was scheduled for 15 January 2007.
On 15 January 2007, the defendant did not appear at the main hearing. It was decided to request a report from the police about the reasons why the defendant was not summoned to the main hearing.
After that, no main hearing sessions were scheduled at all.
In the ruling No. K-58/05 of 4 December 2008, after the Vukovar ŽDO modified the factual description, legal description and legal qualification of the criminal act (into the criminal act of armed rebellion), the criminal procedure against the defendant was suspended by applying the provision of Article 2, paragraph 2 of the General Amnesty Act.
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