During 2012, our monitoring team has noted a number of positive and negative aspects in war crime trials before Croatian courts, as well as in social and political events related to these trials. We assessed to be positive the commencement or resumption of several war crimes trials, which had for years been held-up due to a lack of willingness to prosecute and which involve cases where a larger number of persons of Serb ethnicity were killed or mistreated. Additionally, cooperation between Croatian and Serbian prosecutors has resulted in trials with (non-final) convictions before the Higher Court in Belgrade against 22 members of Serb formations for crimes committed in Croatia and against its citizens. Moreover, the Croatian Supreme Court (here in after: the VSRH) rendered a decision holding that it is possible to award compensation of damage to war crimes victims regardless of the fact whether the perpetrator is known.
However, we also identified a number of areas in respect of which we express our concern.
Certain problems originated in previous years, such as numerous cases of non prosecuted crimes where planting explosives in houses owned by citizens of Serb ethnicity constitutes the guilty act, their systematic evictions as well as certain proceedings which, despite the defendants’ availability, have been ongoing for 10 or more years or they keep being repeated. Additionally, following the stipulation of exclusive competence and transferal of cases to the four county courts, several proceedings against members of Serb formations were discontinued due to unfounded charges.
It is becoming more and more difficult to prosecute crime perpetrators. The quality of evidence material is diminishing due to investigations which are carried out in an unduly and below-quality manner. Our society is still lacking the atmosphere in which people would be willing to testify against crime perpetrators who were „on our side“. Public interest in war crime issues, both domestic and international, is weakening day by day. Because of all of this we express our concern that the perpetrators and persons with command responsibilities, in particular the highest ranking officials, would remain unpunished. In spite ofthis, we repeatedly emphasize the necessity to reveal circumstances of commission of all war crimes and to punish the perpetrators. Only in this way justice for victims would be provided and similar cruel conflicts in the future would be prevented.
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