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Osijek, Zagreb, 27 January 2014 – Biweekly Report on War Crime Trials

Court proceedings for the crimes committed in the prisons in Knin / There were several locations in Knin where civilians or POWs were detained. One of such detention places was the District Court which was established within the premises of the old hospital. According to the documentation which is available to our three CSOs, Croatian judiciary prosecuted several persons, mostly in their absence, for the abuse of detained civilians of POWs in the prisons in Knin. The ICTY convicted Milan Marić, among other things, of murder, imprisonment and torture. From January 1991 until August 1995, Martić held various leadership positions in the so-called Serbian Autonomous District (SAO) and the so-called Republic of Serbian Krajina (RSK) – president, defence minister and minister of the interior. Croatian Judiciary also accused Dragan Vasiljković for the abuse of Croatian POWs in the prison in the Knin fortress and Vasiljković was arrested in Australia in 2006. Since then, the legal procedure in respect of the Croatian request for his extradition is still pending.

The convicting verdict which had been passed by the Serbian court against fourteen persons accused of crimes in Lovas, has been quashed / According to the report by the Serbian national broadcaster RTS (Radiotelevizija Srbije) dated on 09 January 2014, the Appellate Court in Belgrade quashed the Belgrade Higher Court War Crimes Department’s verdict dated on 26 June 2012 which had convicted the fourteen persons – members of Serb paramilitary formations and former Yugoslav National Army members – of the war crime committed in Lovas in October 1991 and November 1991. According to the stated decision, the Appellate Court ordered the Lovas crimes trial to be reversed/repeated. For the time being, the legal reasons for quashing the first-instance court judgement have not been known to us.

Member of Serb paramilitary formation tried in absentia and sentenced to 15 years in prison for killing of one captured and wounded Croatian soldier / On 14 January 2014, the War Crime Council of the Rijeka County Court passed the judgement which convicted the accused Dušan Kovačević in absentia and sentenced him to 15 years in prison for commission of the criminal offence of war crime against prisoners of war and sick persons stated in Article 121 of the Basic Criminal Code of the Republic of Croatia.

Presentation of evidence for the crime in Grubori continues On 14 January 2014, the court continued with presentation of evidence in the case against defendants Frano Drljo and Božo Krajina, members of Lučko Anti-terrorist Unit (ATJ Lučko) for the crime committed in Grubori near Knin on 25 August 1995 when six elderly citizens of Serb-ethnicity were killed and majority of buildings and farm facilities were set on fire during the field search action named „Oluja obruč“. General Mladen Markač was heard as the witness because he was Assistant to the Minister of the Interior in charge of the Special Police at the time when the crime was committed (tempore criminis). Several weeks, media announcements could be heard that the 2nd former ICTY’s indictee general Ivan Čermak would also be summoned as a witness to attend this hearing in the Grubori case. However, he did not appear before court. He received the Post Office’s written card that he should come and collect his mail, which comprised court summons, but he did not come to pick it up.

In the attachment below, there is the electronic version of the report.

Documenta – Center for Dealing with the Past