On 12 March 2009, following the retrial in the case against defendant Miroljub Vujović at al. for war crimes against war prisoners committed in 1991 at the Ovčara farm, the verdict was pronounced before the non-altered War Crimes Chamber of the Special Department of the District Court in Belgrade.
We partially monitored this case.
On 13 March 2007, before the War Crimes Chamber of the District Court in Belgrade, the repeated trial (No. K. V. No. 04/06) began on the basis of the indictment (No. K-TRZ-4/03) issued on 16 September 2005 by the Office of the War Crimes Prosecutor of the Republic of Serbia and amended on 24 November 2005, in the case of war crimes committed against prisoners of war, as defined in Article 144 of the FRY Criminal Act.
In the indictment, it is stated that the defendants, as members of the Territorial Defence of Vukovar which, at the time, was included in the then Yugoslav People’s Army (JNA) i.e. the volunteer squad named “Leva Supoderica”, at the Ovčara farm near Vukovar in the Republic of Croatia, between 20 November and 21 November 1991 (from the late afternoon to the early morning hours of the following day), had organized and ordered i.e. executed the murders and subjected prisoners of war to inhuman treatment (members of the armed forces and other persons following the armed forces) – violating the personal dignity of 192 persons and thus with a direct premeditation they took their lives and buried them at the Ovčara farm near Vukovar.
Therefore, by violating international law rules in time of armed conflict which did not have a characteristic of an armed conflict, contrary to Article 3, paragraph 1, items A and C and Article 4, paragraphs 1, 2 and 4 of the Geneva Convention (III) relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War (1945), that was ratified in 1950 by the People’s Assembly of the Federal People’s Republic of Yugoslavia, and contrary to the Protocol Additional to the 1977 Geneva Convention relating to the Protection of Victims of Non-International Armed Conflicts, they committed war crimes against war prisoners referred to in Article 144 of the FRY Criminal Act.
The repeated trial is also conducted against the defendants Saša Radak and Milorad Pejić. Namely, the case was merged with the cases conducted on the basis of the Indictment issued on 13 April 2005 (against Saša Radak) and the Indictment (No. 4/03) issued on 8 April 2008 (against Milorad Pejić).
TRIAL MONITORING REPORTS
Before the War Crimes Chamber in Belgrade (comprising Veselin Krstajić (President), Gordana Božilović-Petrović and Vinka Beraha-Nikičević (Members), the prosecution is represented by Dušan Knežević, Deputy Prosecutor for War Crimes.
Defence counsels: Milan Zaklan, Miroslav Perković, Zoran Jevrić, Vojislav Vukotić, Slavko Pereski, Milan Vujin, Slaviša Prodanović, Đorđe Kalan, Milan Stanić, Savo Štrbac, Đorđe Dozet, Rajko Jelušić, Vladimir Đurđević, Vladimir Beljanski, Aleksandar Bojkov, Bojan Stanojević, Ilija Radulović, Slobodan Stašević, Ljubomir Apro and Zoran Levajac
Links below contain trial monitoring summary reports from 2004/2005 and 2007. They are available in Croatian only.
“The Trial is conducted professionally, but the Indictment is amiss…” stated the regional team monitor on 20 March 2005.
On 12 December 2005 at 13:00h, President of War Crimes Chamber of the District Court in Belgrade, judge Veselin Krstajić rendered a verdict which ended the proceeding of first instance conducted for the criminal act of war crime committed against prisoners of war, as defined in Article 144 of the FRY Criminal Act.
After rendering the verdict, President of the Chamber had been explaining the verdict reached by the War Crimes Chamber for two and a half hours.
With the verdict, the following defendants were found guilty and sentenced to a term of imprisonment:
- Miroljub Vujović, found guilty and sentenced to 20 years in prison;
- Stanko Vujanović, found guilty and sentenced to 20 years in prison;
- Milan Lančužanin, found guilty and sentenced to 20 years in prison;
- Predrag Milojević, found guilty and sentenced to 20 years in prison;
- Predrag Dragović, found guilty and sentenced to 20 years in prison;
- Đorđe Šošić, found guilty and sentenced to 20 years in prison;
- Ivan Atanasijević, found guilty and sentenced to 20 years in prison;
- Miroslav Đanković, found guilty and sentenced to 20 years in prison;
- Jovica Perić, found guilty and sentenced to 15 years in prison;
- Milan Vojnović, found guilty and sentenced to 15 years in prison;
- Vujo Zlatar, found guilty and sentenced to 15 years in prison;
- Predrag Mađarac, found guilty and sentenced to 12 years in prison;
- Nada Kalaba, found guilty and sentenced to 9 years in prison;
- Goran Mugoša, found guilty and sentenced to 5 years in prison.
All above-mentioned defendants got prolonged custody.
The defendants Marko Ljuboja and Slobodan Katić were acquitted and immediately released out of detention. These two defendants were released due to lack of evidence. President of the Chamber said that it was proven that the two of them were at Ovčara near the hangar, but they were not seen by the pit.
Supreme Court of the Republic of Serbia quashed by its Ruling No. Kž-IR.Z.1/06 of 18 October 2006, the Belgrade District Court’s Verdict No. K.V. 01/2003 of 12 December 2005 and reversed the case for a retrial. The verdict was quashed due to essential violation of the criminal procedure provisions and incorrect and incomplete establishment of facts. One section of the verdict of acquittal was quashed due to incorrect and incomplete establishment of facts.
The repeated trial began on 13 March 2007. Three defendants (Marko Ljuboja, Slobodan Katić and Goran Mugoša) were not under detention during the trial whereas other defendants were kept in custody.
On 12 February 2009, the verdict was pronounced. The defendants were found guilty and sentenced to the following imprisonment terms:
– sentenced to 20 years in prison:
– sentenced to 15 years in prison:
– sentenced to 13 years in prison:
– sentenced to 9 years in prison:
– sentenced to 6 years in prison:
– sentenced to 5 years in prison:
Acquitted of charges: Vujo Zlatar, Predrag Mađarac, Slobodan Katić, Marko Ljuboja and Milorad Pejić.
FINAL OPINION OF THE MONITORING TEAM FOLLOWING THE CONCLUSION OF THE FIRST INSTANCE TRIAL
The trial was correctly and impartially conducted by the War Crimes Chamber of the District Court in Belgrade against the defendants: Miroljub Vujović, Stanko Vujanović, Jovica Perić, Ivan Atanasijević, Predrag Madžarac, Milan Vojnović, Milan Lančužanin, Marko Ljuboja, Predrag Milojević, Vujo Zlatar, Goran Mugoša, Đorđe Šošić, Miroslav Đaković, Slobodan Katić, Nada Kalaba, Milan Bulić and Predrag Dragović.
Our opinion is that the indictment is deficient as it does not include those officers, members of the former JNA, on whom were established serious indications during the trial showing their joint responsibility for the committed crime. In addition, based on the derived evidence, the Chamber has accepted the fact that the damaged persons were prisoners of war, however, the question remains if enough attention during the trial was directed towards establishing the fact if there were also other persons among the captured who were protected by the international humanitarian law (civilians and wounded persons, especially paying attention to the killed heavily pregnant woman).
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