In December 2007, the District Court in Belgrade dismissed the Indictment of the Office of the War Crimes Prosecutor of the Republic of Serbia that had been laid against Vladimir Kovačević “Rambo” accused of the commission of a war crime against civilians during the shelling on Dubrovnik in 1991. The court dismissed it because of the mental illness of the defendant.
The indictment was laid in respect of the criminal offence – a war crime against civilians committed in Dubrovnik in December 1991. Kovačević was charged that he and forces under his command fired several hundreds of projectiles at the Old Town of Dubrovnik. As a result, two civilians were killed, three civilians were wounded, six historic monuments-buildings under UNESCO protection were burned down and destroyed in their entirety and 46 more buildings suffered damage.
You can read the Indictment of the Office of the War Crimes Prosecutor of the Republic of Serbia issued on 26 July 2007 here (PDF, 81,4 KB).
Belgrade District Court
Department: War Crimes Chamber
Indictment: KTRZ No. 5/07 of 26 July 2007 issued by the Office of the War Crimes Prosecutor of the Republic of Serbia.
Criminal offence: war crime against civilians under Article 142, paragraph 2 in conjunction with paragraph 1 of the KZSRJ, in conjunction with Article 22 of the KZSRJ (co-perpetration)
Defendant: Vladimir Kovačević “Rambo”
– killed: Pavo Urban and Tonči Skočko
– injured: Mato Valjalo, Ivo Vlašica and Nikola Jović
THE COURSE OF THE TRIAL
Kovačević was arrested in Serbia in 2003. His extradition to ICTY was delayed for one month because of his mental disorders.
In April 2006, the Trial Chamber (ICTY) established that Vladimir Kovačević “Rambo” does not have the capacity to stand trial because of mental illness. The Kovačević case is the first case where the Tribunal established an incapability of the defendant to stand trial because of the diagnosed mental illness.
The Kovačević case was the first case that ICTY transferred to Serbian judiciary. In respect of the same crime – the shelling of Dubrovnik, the Tribunal sentenced the JNA generals Pavle Strugar and Miodrag Jokić to eight i.e. seven years’ imprisonment.
In December 2007 the District Court in Belgrade heard the court expert neurophychiatrist Gordana Dedić who stated that the defendant suffered from one of the most difficult and permanent mental disorders and that no improvements of his mental condition could occur.
Pursuant to Article 349 of the ZKP, because of the present circumstances which temporarily prevent criminal prosecution (mental illness – a Paranoid Psychosis), the Court issued a decision in which it dismissed the Indictment of the Office of the War Crimes Prosecutor.
Kovačević did not attend the hearing because he was under the treatment within the closed ward of the Military Medical Academy Psychiatric Clinic in Belgrade.
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