Trial against the defendant Rade Miljević for a war crime against civilians under Article 120, paragraph 1 of the OKZRH.
The Sisak County State’s Attorney’s Office (hereinafter: the ŽDO) issued the indictment No. K-DO-3/06 on 4 September 2006 against the defendant Rade Miljević. The defendant is charged that, on 20 September 1991 in Glina, as a member of illegal military forces of the so-called “Serb Autonomous Region (SAO) Krajina”, using the circumstances of armed rebellion in that area, contrary to the provisions of Article 3 of the 4th Geneva Convention from 12 August 1949 relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War and Article 4, items 1 and 2 of the Protocol Additional to the Geneva Convention of 8 June 1977 relative to the Protection of Victims of Non-international Armed Conflicts (Protocol 2), together with an unidentified number of armed and uniformed, unknown members of the same military forces, took away from the Glina Prison detained civilians Janko Kaurić, Milan Litrić, Borislav Litrić and Ante Žužić. Under the pretext of sending them to the Knin Prison, they took the detainees to the Pogledić Hill where they killed the detainees using firearms.
The defendant is charged that, having breached the rules of the international humanitarian law during an armed conflict, he killed civilians, whereby he committed a criminal act against humanity and international humanitarian law – a war crime against civilians, described and punishable pursuant to Article 120, paragraph 1 of the OKZ RH.
The indictment was amended at the main hearing held on 9 May 2007. County Deputy State Attorney altered the factual description of criminal offence so that the defendant is now charged that, based on his previous agreement with the members of reconnaissance group of Joso Kovačević, he took the injured persons out of the prison and surrendered them for execution.
Sisak County Court
Case number: K 14/12
War Crimes Council (in the second repeated trial): judge Melita Avedić, President of the Council; judges Alenka Lešić and Željko Mlinarić, Council members
Indictment: issued by the Sisak ŽDO, No. K-DO-03/06 of 4 September 2006, modified at the main hearing held on 9 May 2007
Prosecuting attorney: Marijan Zgurić, Deputy Sisak County State Attorney
Criminal act: war crime against civilians referred to in Article 120, paragraph 1 of the OKZ RH
Defendant: Rade Miljević
Defence counsels: Zorko Konstanjšek, a lawyer practising in Sisak; Domagoj Rupčić, a lawyer practising in Sisak; Veljko Miljević, a lawyer practising in Zagreb
Victims – killed civilians: Janko Kaurić, Milan Litrić, Borislav Litrić, Ante Žužić
The defendant’s attorney-in-fact: Darko Rogan, a lawyer practising in Zagreb
Following the repeated procedure which commenced on 28 March 2008 and which was, compared to the first trial, held before another War Crimes Council of the Sisak County Court, a verdict was announced on 17 December 2008 in which the defendant Rade Miljević was found guilty of committing the criminal act with which he was charged, i.e. that on 20 September 1991 he took away from the Glina Prison detained civilians Janko Kurić, Milan Litrić, Borislav Litrić and Ante Žužić and, for the purpose of their liquidation, handed them over to an unidentified number of armed unknown persons who waited for the detainees in front of the Glina Prison, took them to the Pogledić Hill near Glina where they killed them with bullets fired from firearms.
The verdict was adopted following a repeated procedure.
Namely, the Supreme Court of the RoC quashed the verdict passed on 18 June 2007 in which the defendant was sentenced to 14 years in prison. The Supreme Court assessed that the facts were incompletely and erroneously established and ordered the first instance court to once again present all evidence, particularly witness testimonies that were contrary to each other; it also ordered the facts to be established on the basis of these presented evidence.
In the repeated procedure which commenced on 28 March 2008 and which was completed on 17 December 2008, 11 hearings were held, during which a total of 24 witnesses were heard. The defendant was found guilty and sentenced to 12 years in prison.
However, the Supreme Court quashed the verdict of the Sisak County Court of 17 December 2008 and reversed the case to the first instance court for a re-trial before another War Crimes Council.
You can read the report from the public session of the Supreme Court here. (in Croatian)
The main hearing in the third (second repeated) trial began on 25 October 2010.
On 13 June 2007, the War Crimes Council of the Sisak County Court announced a verdict in which Rade Miljević was found guilty of a criminal act with which he was charged in the indictment and sentenced him to 14 years in prison.
The Supreme Court of the Republic of Croatia quashed the verdict of the War Crimes Council of the Sisak County Court due to erroneously and incompletely established facts.
On 17 December 2008, a verdict was announced in which the defendant was found guiltyand sentenced to 12 years in prison. Detention against the defendant was extended.
The Panel of the Supreme Court, at the session held on 9 June 2009 quashed the verdictof the War Crimes Council of the Sisak County Court and reversed the case for a re-trial before another Council.
On 22 November 2012, the Sisak County Court’s War Crimes Council pronounced the verdict in which it acquitted defendant Miljević.
You can read an overview and opinion of the monitoring team following the conducted first procedure before the first instance court here. (in Croatian)
OPINION OF THE MONITORING TEAM FOLLOWING THE CONCLUSION OF THE FIRST INSTANCE PROCEEDINGS
The criminal procedure against the defendant Rade Miljević held before the Sisak County Court was conducted correctly. However, we wish to warn of the following:
The original indictment issued by the County State Attorney’s Office charged the defendant with participating in the killing of civilians although this did not follow from the evidence stated in the indictment. There was no closed set of indications, let alone any evidence indicating that the defendant participated in the execution of the prisoners in any way, nor that he executed them himself.
During the evidence procedure, the Court rejected a great amount of the evidence proposed by the defence. In our view, rejections of some of the proposed evidence were not sufficiently argumented in the verdict. Also, we believe that the verdict did not clearly explain which of the «circumstances indicated that» the defendant knew that the prisoners were going to be executed after they were taken away from the prison in Glina. If the defence files an appeal on these grounds, it is questionable whether the Supreme Court will find that the facts have been fully established.
Further, during the procedure the defending attorney received a written threat and warned the Court that there was an obvious pressure on the witnesses. However, the Court rejected his proposition to exclude the public from the hearings.
As the Court did not use a separate room for witnesses, there were occasions when witnesses discussed and commented on their statements.
In addition, this procedure brought to light another case of a trial in absentia that had been held before the Sisak County Court (case number K-23/93), in which the accused Ranko Pralica and Stanko Palančan were convicted and sentenced to 20 years in prison. As the court-appointed attorney did not appeal against the decision to the Supreme Court, the verdict reached by the County Court became legally valid after the expiry of the appeal period. Ranko Pralica and Stanko Palančan were convicted of two war crimes against civilians pursuant to Article 142, Paragraph 1 of the Penal Law of the Republic of Croatia. The factual grounds of Item 2 of the verdict stated that the injured person Borislav Litrić died in the prison from beating injuries he had received. However, in the trial against the defendant Miljević, the Court established that Borislav Litrić was taken away from the prison by Rade Miljević, along with the other three injured persons, and was then executed on a hill near Glina.
It remains to be seen whether the Sisak County State Attorney’s Office, which issued both these indictments, will exercise the right to request a repetition of the trial against Ranko Pralica and Stanko Palančanin, given that the presented personal evidence as well as the findings and opinion of medical expert witnesses on the cause of death of the injured person Borislav Litrić indicated that he died from gunshot wounds and not injuries from physical abuse, on the count of which they were legally convicted.
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