War crime in Lovas
Trial against fourteen defendants (Ljuban Devetak at al), indicted for committing in Lovas in October and November 1991 a war crime against civilians under Article 142, paragraph 1 of the FRY Criminal Act, acting as accessories, in conjunction with Article 22 of the same Act.
The indictment charges the defendants with the following crimes:
– as members of local civilian and military authority, of the Territorial Defence under the former JNA and of the paramilitary-voluntary armed group “Dušan Silni”, the defendants participated in the attack on Lovas and its civilian population, although they knew that the village was unprotected and that there were no Croat troops to offer resistance. Upon entering the village, the defendants opened uncontrolled random fire from their rifles, threw bombs into courtyards, houses, cellars and other premises, killed some of the civilians whom they found – causing destruction and damage to civilian residential buildings and other facilities and death to 21 civilians;
– the defendants exposed non-Serb (most of whom were Croats) population to humiliating and discriminating conducts, ordered unlawful arrests, confinements and interrogations of civilians which included torturing and inflicting physical injuries, whereas the defendant Devetak ordered also killing – thus by their conduct the defendants Devetak, Devčić and Radojčić aided and abetted a number of still unidentified members of armed groups who killed a total of 27 persons on different locations in the village;
– the defendants unlawfully confined and physically tortured civilians; they ordered civilians to enter the minefield what caused a simultaneous detonation of many mines, after which a certain number of armed escort members opened fire from their rifles at helpless civilians, thus, as a result of the two mentioned acts, 20 civilians were killed and 12 civilians sustained light and serious physical injuries.
District Court in Belgrade
Case file number: K.V. 6/07
War Crimes Chamber: Judge Olivera Anđelković, Chamber President; judges Tatjana Vuković and Dragan Plazinić, Chamber members (as of February 2010 judge Plazinić is replaced by the judge Dragan Mirković),
Indictment: issued by the Office of the War Crimes Prosecutor of the Republic of Serbia on 28 November 2007, specified on 12 December 2007
Prosecution: Veselin Mrdak, Deputy War Crimes Prosecutor of the Republic of Serbia
Criminal act: war crime against civilians, under Article 142, paragraph 1 of the FRY Criminal Act
Defendants: Ljuban Devetak, Milan Devčić, Milan Radojčić, Željko Krnjajić, Miodrag Dimitrijević, Darko Perić, Radovan Vlajković, Radisav Josipović, Jovan Dimitrijević, Saša Stojanović, Dragan Bačić, Zoran Kosijer, Petronije Stevanović and Aleksandar Nikolaidis
Defence: lawyers Zdravko Krstić (for Ljuban Devetak, Milan Devčić and Dragan Bačić); Gradimir Nalić and Igor Olujić (for Milan Radojčić); Vojislav Vukotić (for Željko Krnjajić); Miladin Živanović (for Miodrag Dimitrijević); Jasmina Živić (for Darko Perić); Zorko Boris (for Radovan Vlajković); Branko Dimić (for Radisav Josipović); Gordana Živanović (for Jovan Dimitrijević); Slobodan Živković (for Saša Stojanović); Branislava Furjanović (for Zoran Kosijer); Miodrag Planojević (for Petronije Stevanović); Mila Janković (for Aleksandar Nikolaidis)
Attorneys-in-fact of the injured persons: Nataša Kandić and lawyer Dragoljub Todorović
– killed in the attack on Lovas: Mirko Grgić, Mato Adamović, Danijel Badanjak, Cecilija Badanjak, Antun Jovanović, Anka Jovanović, Katarina Pavličević, Juraj Poljak, Josip Kraljević, Alojzije Polić, Mato Keser, Josip Poljak, Ivan Ostrun, Drago Pejić, Mijo Božić, Tomo Sabljak, Vida Krizmanić, Stipo Mađarević, Pavo Đaković, Stipo Pejić and Željko Antolović
– killed at different locations in the village: Darko Pavlić, Željko Pavlić, Anton Luketić, Đuka Luketić, Petar Luketić, Alojz Krizmanić, Đuro Krizmanić, Andrija Devčić, Stipo Dolački, Marko Damjanović, Franjo Pandža, Ivan Vidić, Stjepan Luketić, Slavica Pavošević, Jozefina Pavošević, Marija Pavošević, Ana Lemunović, Josip Rendulić, Božo Vidić, Marin Balić, Katarina Balić, Rudolf Jonak, Marija Fišer, Zoran Krizmanić, Josip Jovanović, Zvonimir Martinović and Petar Rendulić
– killed on the way to the minefield: Boško Brođanac
-killed in the minefield: Marijan Marković, Tomislav Sabljak, Darko Solaković, Ivan Palijan, Zlatko Panjik, Slavko Kuzmić, Ivan Sabljak, Mijo Šalaj, Ivan Kraljević, Petar Badanjak, Zlatko Božić, Antun Panjik, Marko Vidić, Luka Balić, Marko Sabljak, Mato Hodak, Nikola Badanjak, Ivan Conjar, Slavko Štrangarević and Josip Turkalj
-injured in the minefield: Stjepan Peulić, Stanislav Franjković, Ivan Mujić, Zlatko Toma, Ljubo Solaković, Josip Gerstner, Mato Kraljević, Josip Sabljak, Emanuel Filić, Milko Keser, Milan Radmilović and Marko Filić
-physically tortured: Ivica Đaković, Ivan Kraljević (subsequently killed in the minefield), Boško Brođanac (subsequently killed in the column while he was being taken to the minefield), Marin Mađarević, Nikola Badanjak (subsequently killed in the minefield), Zlatko Toma (subsequently injured in the minefield), Berislav Filić, Marko Filić (subsequently injured in the minefield), Željko Somborac, Mato Hodak (subsequently killed in the minefield), Tomo Sabljak, Ivan Sabljak (subsequently killed in the minefield), Marko Sabljak (subsequently killed in the minefield), Marko Vidić (subsequently killed in the minefield), Luka Balić (subsequently killed in the minefield), Josip Turkalj (subsequently killed in the minefield), Mijo Šalaj (subsequently killed in the minefield), Emanuel Filić (subsequently injured in the minefield), Pero Luketić (subsequently killed), Ante Luketić (subsequently killed), Đuka Luketić (subsequently killed), Ivan Vidić (subsequently killed) et al.
-tortured during interrogation: Đuro Antolović, Marko Grčanac, Đuka Radočaj, Marko Filić (also injured in the minfield), Đuro Filić, Franjo Pandža (subsequently killed), Anton Krizmanić
The main hearing began on 17 April 2008.
All defendants attend the main hearing. The defendants Ljuban Devetak, Milan Devčić, Milan Radojčić, Miodrag Dimitrijević and Petronije Stevanović are held in detention, while other defendants are undetained.
The defendant Aleksandar Nikolaidis was also detained until 13 June 2008, when the Chamber vacated his detention. The Chamber President explained verbally this decision by stating the fact that the defendant Nikolaidis had only been accused by the defendant Stevanović, his willingness to contribute to the establishment of facts in the Lovas case, and his exemplary conduct before the Court.
The defendant Jovan Dimitrijević, who was free until 19 September 2008, was ordered detention due to the gravity of the crime. The defendant’s impudent behaviour during the presentation of his defence was also stated as one of the reasons for detention order, as explained by Judge Anđelković. However, the Supreme Court of the Republic of Serbia quashed the ruling on detention of the defendant Jovan Dimitrijević.
The 6th defendant Darko Perić (detained on 29 May 2007) was in detention until 21 October 2008, when the Chamber vacated his detention. The Chamber President explained this decision and stated that the Chamber took into consideration the defendant’s honest testimony (during investigation and the hearing) and that with the defence as such the defendant cannot cause any hindrances in the trial conduct.
Until November 2008, we monitored 36 main hearing sessions and all defendants presented their defence (14th defendant Aleksandar Nikolaidis, 13th defendant Petronije Stevanović, 1st defendant Ljuban Devetak, 2nd defendant Milan Devčić, 3rd defendant Milan Radojčić, 4th defendant Željko Krnjajić, 5th defendant Miodrag Dimitrijević, 6th defendant Darko Perić, 7th defendant Radovan Vlajković, 8th defendant Radisav Josipović, 9th defendant Jovan Dimitrijević, 10th defendant Saša Stojanović, 11th defendant Dragan Bačić and 12thdefendant Zoran Kosijer).
All defendants pleaded not guilty of the charges brought against them.
During the sessions of the main hearing held in November, the following witnesses were heard:
Ljubodrag Jelić (member of Serb voluntary formations situated end of 1991 in Lovas), Josip Kuveždić (Lovas inhabitant), Borislav Mihajlović (head of one of Serb voluntary formations situated in Lovas in the incriminating period), Srđan Novković and Milan Vasović (policeman who, at the pre-investigative stage, interrogated some of the defendants in this trial) and Ilija Kresojević (who is one of the defendants in the trial before the Vukovar County Court held in respect of the crime committed in Lovas, is a Lovas inhabitant of Serb ethnicity and was a member of the Territorial Defence Lovas at the incriminating period).
Moreover, during the court sessions held in November, the Chamber President mentioned that she received information from the Croatian Ministry of Justice’s Department for Witness and Victim Support in Criminal Proceedings and War Crime Trials. According to this information, certain witnesses from the Republic of Croatia refuse to come to Belgrade and testify in the trial. In another words, some of the witnesses do not wish to testify in the trial which is conducted at the Special Department of the District Court in Belgrade for the crime committed in Lovas.
Our monitors did not attend the trial as of December 2008.
On 26 June 2012, the War Crimes Council of the Higher Court in Belgrade pronounced the non-final verdict in which all fourteen defendants were found guilty and sentenced to prison.
Four members of the local territorial defence were sentenced to the following prison terms: Ljuban Devetak (a maximum prison sentence of 20 years), Milan Devčić (10 years), Milan Radojčić (13 years) and Željko Krnjajić (10 years).
Four members of the then-JNA were also sentenced to the following prison terms: Miodrag Dimitrijević (10), Darko Perić and Radovan Vlajković (5 years each) and Radisav Josipović (4 years).
The then-members of the paramilitary formation ‘Dušan Silni’ were also sentenced: Jovan Dimitrijević and Saša Stojanović (8 years each), Dragan Bačić and Aleksandar Nikolaidis (6 years each), Zoran Kosijer (9 years) and Petronije Stevanović (14 years).
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