War Crimes Monitoring

Crime in Glina

On 20 May 2009, the War Crimes Council of the Sisak County Court, in the re-opened procedure against the absent defendants Dragan Roksandić and Milan Korač, after the Sisak County State’s Attorney’s Office (hereinafter: the ŽDO) modified the indictment no longer charging the defendants with committing a war crime against civilians but with the criminal act of armed rebellion, passed the verdict which annulled the legally valid verdict of the Sisak District Court No. K-21/93 of 26 May 1993 in which both defendants were found guilty and sentenced to 20 years in prison and, pursuant to the General Amnesty Act, it rejected the indictment.

COURSE OF THE PROCEDURE

The indictment issued by the Sisak ŽDO No. KT-175/92 of 14 April 1993 charged the 1st defendant Dragan Roksandić as Secretary of the Glina Municipality and the 2nd defendant Milan Korač as President of the Glina Municipality Executive Board that, during 1991 and 1992, they committed a war crime against civilians referred to in Article 120, paragraph 1 of the Basic Criminal Law of the RoC (hereinafter: the OKZ RH).

The defendants were tried in absentia.

On 26 May 1993, the Sisak District Court pronounced a verdict in which the defendants Roksandić and Korač were found guilty and sentenced to 20 years in prison each.

You can see the verdict of the Sisak District Court No. K-21/93 of 26 May 1993 here (PDF, 936 KB). (in Croatian)

On 4 March 2009, the Sisak ŽDO filed a request for re-opening of the criminal proceedings No. KT-175/92 on the basis of new evidence.

You can see the request for re-opening of the criminal proceedings filed by the Sisak ŽDO No. KT-175/92 of 4 March 2009 here (PDF 831 KB). (in Croatian)

On 9 March 2009, the Extra-trial Chamber of the Sisak County Court accepted the request for re-opening of the proceedings filed by the Sisak ŽDO.

You can see the ruling of the Extra-trial Chamber here (PDF 233 KB). (in Croatian)

The main hearing was held on 20 May 2009 in the defendants’ absence.

You can see the report from the main hearing held on 20 May 2009 here. (in Croatian)

Following the conducted evidence procedure and after the prosecuting attorney modified the factual and legal description of the act and its legal qualification, no longer charging the defendants with committing a war crime against civilians but with the criminal act of armed rebellion, the Council passed a verdict which annulled the legally valid verdict of the Sisak District Court No. K-21/93 of 26 May 1993 in its entirety and, pursuant to the General Amnesty Act, it rejected the indictment issued against the defendants Dragan Roksandić and Milan Korač.

You can see the verdict of the Sisak County Court dated 20 May 2009 here (PDF, 741 KB). (in Croatian)

 

OPINION

In May 2009, the War Crimes Council of the Sisak County Court, in the re-opened proceedings against the absent defendants Dragan Roksandić and Milan Korać, after the Sisak ŽDO modified the indictment no longer charging the defendants with committing a war crime against civilians but with the criminal act of armed rebellion, passed a verdict which annulled the legally binding verdict of the Sisak District Court No. K-21/93 of 26 May 1993, in which both defendants were found guilty and sentenced to 20 years in prison. Also, pursuant to the General Amnesty Act, it rejected the indictment.

The War Crimes Council of the Sisak County Court conducted properly the criminal procedure in this case, except for one omission that we learned from Dušanka Nenadović court appointed defence counsel of the defendant Korać.

Namely, as was stated by the defence counsel, she did not receive a decision designating her as court appointed defence counsel. She only received summons for the main hearing. Thus, she concluded that this was the case of mandatory defence representation.

But, given the fact that the indictment was later modified and the charges were rejected, no serious consequences were caused by the described omission.

Explanation

On 26 May 1993, the Sisak District Court reached a verdict No. K-21/93 wherein it found the absent defendants Roksandić and Korać guilty of committing a war crime against civilians pursuant to Article 120, paragraph 1 of the OKZRH. They were found guilty because, by acting in capacity as the Glina municipality secretary (the defendant Roksandić) and as the Glina municipality Executive Board President (the defendant Korać), in agreement with the Glina municipality President Dušan Jović, during 1991 and 1992 in Glina, with the purpose to undermine and subvert a newly-established democratic society in Croatia, they formed a headquarters in the village Šibine near Glina. There they planned and co-ordinated armed actions of unlawful chetnik units, issued the attack order on the Glina Police Station, issued orders to alienate movable property, destroy movable and immovable property and farming facilities owned by the Croatian ethnicity inhabitants, depriving of liberty a larger number of Croatian nationality members, who were physically and mentally harassed. As a result, Stjepan Šmicl, Ivan Palarić and Ivan Gregurić died of sustained injuries in prison. Each defendant was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Since no complaint was lodged against the mentioned verdict, the verdict became legally binding upon the deadline expiry for lodging a complaint. [1]

This occurred despite the fact that the court appointed defence counsel was obliged to represent the defendant until the verdict becomes legally binding – therefore to lodge a complaint in respect of the verdict.

On 4 March 2009, the Sisak ŽDO filed a request for re-opening the criminal proceedings.

It reasoned its request with new facts and evidence contained in the file of the Investigation Department of the Sisak County Court No. Kio-25/07, against the defendant Dušan Jović at al. for criminal acts of war crime against civilians and war crime against war prisoners, stating that the functions of secretary and president of the Glina Municipality Executive Board were not the functions which would enable issuing of orders, which Roksandić and Korać were sentenced for.

It was stipulated that evident from the file no. Kio-25/07 was that authorisations for issuing orders were under the competence of the defendant Dušan Jović, in the capacity as the War Presidency president and commander of the Regional Headquarters of the Banija and Kordun Territorial Defence (hereinafter: TO), and the leading men of TO and JNA in Glina Stanko Divjakinja, Vlado Ćupović and Marko Vrcelj, who are under investigation procedure. Also evident from collected evident was that the mentioned persons belonged to the chain of command of the units, the members of which committed crimes in the Glina area.

It was pointed out that inspection of the Investigation Department of the Sisak County Court file no. Kio-27/02 represents new evidence. This file reveals that a total of 30 witnesses – camp detainees stated that Mile Paspalj, the TO commander assistant for moral-political work. Not a single witness indicated Dragan Roksandić and Milan Korać.

It was also mentioned in the request that certain individual actions which, pursuant to the verdict, legally qualify under a war crime against civilians do not even present the characteristics of this act, but the characteristics of an armed rebellion (the headquarters formation, planning and co-ordinating armed actions, ordering attack on the Glina Police Station).

With the Decision of the Sisak County Court’s Extra-trial Chamber no. Kv-54/09 of 9 March 2009, the request for re-opening of criminal proceedings was accepted and the proceedings was reversed back to the main hearing stage.

In the re-opened trial, all previously exhibited evidence was read. The Sisak ŽDO stated that, until the hearing in a re-opened trial, no new facts or evidence were collected which would be charging the defendants with a crime as indicted earlier (the indictment no. KT-175/92 of 14 April 1993) He partially altered the factual description, legal description an legal qualification of the offence in the manner that he was pressing charges against the defendants charging them for an armed rebellion.

The Council reached and pronounced a verdict that quashed the legally binding verdict of the Sisak District Court No. K-21/93 of 26 May 1993 in its entirety and, pursuant to Article 353, item 6 of the Criminal Procedure Act, regarding Article 2, paragraph 2 of the General Amnesty Act rejected the indictment.

[1] Although we did not look into the court file, it is evident from the Request for a re-opening of the criminal proceedings by the Sisak ŽDO No. KT-175/92 of 4 March 2009 and the Decision on re-opening of the trial by extra-trial chamber of the Sisak County Court No. Kv-54/09 of 9 March 2009 that the trial was concluded with the verdict of the Sisak District Court No. K-21/93 of 26 May 1993.

Crime in Bučje


In the re-opened procedure against the absent defendants Luka Ponorac, Luka Nikodinović, Miodrag Simeunović and Rajko Dreković, a ruling was passed on 13 July 2009 which, pursuant to the General Amnesty Act, terminated the criminal procedure against the aforementioned persons.
INDICTMENT AND COURSE OF THE PROCEDURE

The indictment No. KT-82/92 of 27 January 1993 charged the defendants that on 28 August 1991, around 13 hours, in the village of Lučinci, Požega Municipality, as members of Serb-chetnik formations located in Bučje, they came fully armed to the warehouse of a PPK Kutjevo shop where Željko Makarun was working and seized various goods from him. Then, under threat of weapons, they forced him to come with them and took him to Bučje where he was detained for 42 days, during which time he was mentally and physically abused just as other detainees – civilians from Slavonija area were; he was starved and beaten and then, after 42 days in detention, he was exchanged. Thus, contrary to the 4th Geneva Convention of 12 August 1949 relative to the Protection of Civil Persons in Time of War, i.e. having violated the rules of the international law during an armed conflict they tortured civilian population and treated them inhumanely, whereby they committed a war crime against civilians referred to in Article 142 of the Basic Criminal Law of the RoC (hereinafter: the OKZ RH).

You can read the indictment dated 27 January 1993 here. (in Croatian)

The defendants were tried in absentia.

On 26 April 1993, the Požega District Court pronounced a verdict No. K-6/93 by which the defendants Luka Ponorac, Luka Nikodinović, Miodrag Simeunović and Rajko Dreković were found guilty and sentenced to 8 years in prison each.

You can read the verdict of the Požega District Court dated 26 April 1993 here (pdf, 1.303 KB). (in Croatian)

The Supreme Court of the RoC (verdict No. KŽ-542/93 of 29 July 1993) rejected the appeals lodged by the defendants’ defence counsel and by the District Public Prosecutor as unfounded and the verdict of the Požega District Court became legally valid.

On 11 February 2009, the Požega County State’s Attorney’s Office (hereinafter: the ŽDO) filed a request for re-opening of the procedure, which was accepted by the Extra-trial Chamber of the Požega County Court.

You can read the request for re-opening of the procedure here. (in Croatian)

The Extra-trial Chamber of the Požega County Court issued a decision granting the re-opening of the criminal procedure. You can read the decision (pdf, 566 KB). (in Croatian)

The main hearing was scheduled for 8 July 2009. The main hearing did not commence on that particular date, but on the same day the injured party Željko Makarun was heard before the Extra-trial Chamber, and then the ŽDO modified the indictment. It charged the defendants that on 28 August 1991 around 13 hours in the village of Lučinci, Požega Municipality, as members of Serb-chetnik formations located on Bučje, they came fully armed to the warehouse of a PPK Kutjevo shop where Željko Makarun was working and seized different goods from him. Then, under threat of weapons, they forced him to come with them and took him to Bučje, meaning they participated in the armed rebellion directed at jeopardising the constitutionally determined state and social structure and security of the Republic of Croatia, whereby they committed the criminal act of armed rebellion against the Republic of Croatia, described and punishable pursuant to Article 236 f of the Criminal Code of the RoC (hereinafter: the KZ RH).

You can read the modified indictment of the Požega County State’s Attorney’s Office of 8 July 2009 here. (in Croatian)

On 13 July 2009, the Požega County Court, pursuant to the General Amnesty Act, passed a ruling by which it terminated the criminal procedure against Ponorac, Nikodinović, Simeunović and Dreković.

You can read the aforementioned ruling here (pdf, 715 KB). (in Croatian)
GENERAL DATA

Požega County Court

War Crimes Council: Judge Predrag Dragičević, Council President, Judge Žarko Kralj, Council member, Judge Jasna Zubčić, Council member

Case number: K-6/09

Indictment: issued by the Požega ŽDO No. KT-82/92 on 27 January 1993, modified on 8 July 2009

Criminal act: war crime against civilians referred to in Article 142, paragraph 1 of the OKZ RH; after the indictment was modified, armed rebellion referred to in Article 236 f of the KZ RH.

Prosecuting attorney: Krešimir Babić, Požega County Deputy State’s Attorney

Defendants: Luka Ponorac, Luka Nikodinović, Miodrag Simeunović and Rajko Dreković

Defence counsel: Karlo Gregurić, court-appointed defence counsel

Victims: Željko Makarun
TRIAL MONITORING REPORTS

BUČJE – trial monitoring reports (in Croatian)
 

OPINION

 

After the re-opened trial, the Požega County Court reached a judgment on 13 July 2009 by which, pursuant to the General Amnesty Act, it terminated the criminal proceedings against Luka Ponorac, Luka Nikodinović, Miodrag Simeunović and Rajko Dreković (they were sentenced in absentia by a final 1993 verdict to 8 years in prison each).

 

In 1993, the Požega District Public Prosecution indicted Luka Ponorac, Luka Nikodinović, Miodrag Simeunović and Rajko Dreković for a war crime against civilians, under Article 120, paragraph 1 of the OKZ RH.

They were charged that in August 1991, as Serb-chetnik formations’ members, they came armed to the warehouse of the shop where Željko Makarun was working and they seized various goods from him. Then, under the threat of weapons, they took him to Bučje where he was detained for 42 days. There, just as other detainees, he was physically and mentally abused, starved and beaten and, after 42 days of detention, exchanged.

 

It is evident from the testimony of the injured person Makarun specified in the indictment’s statement of reasons that the defendants were the persons who took him by force to the mentioned detention camp where he was questioned on several occasions. However, it was not specified which person was questioning and physically abusing him.

Further in the text of the indictment’s statement of reasons, the prosecution concluded that the defendants abducted the injured party Makarun and took him to Bučje. The defendants were the ones who physically and mentally abused Makarun together with several other unidentified persons,.

 

During the first trial, the injured person testified that he was blindfolded when he was being questioned in Bučje. By considering the raised questions, he concluded that he was interrogated by the persons who knew him and that the defendants could have physically attacked and abused him, as well.

 

The Požega District Court conduced the trial and, in April 1993, reached a verdict wherein the defendants were found guilty in absentia and each defendant was sentenced to 8 years in prison.

The first-instance verdict was upheld in July 1993 by the Supreme Court’s verdict.

 

Both in the indictment and in the verdict the act was legally qualified as a war crime against civilians, despite the fact that Tomislav Makarun testified that he was a member of the Reserve Unit of the Croatian Police (hereinafter: the MUP reserve unit) at the critical period. He also testified that the defendants were aware of that and that he was questioned in Bučje about the weapon which he received as a reserve police officer.

It ensues from the aforementioned that the injured person was not a civilian at the incriminating period, although he was captured in the warehouse of the shop where he was working. We believe that in respect of the defendant as a detained member of the MUP reserve unit, the provisions of the Geneva Convention of 12 August 1949 relative to the Protection of War Prisoners should have applied.[1]

 

Based on the injured person’s testimony, it is clear that he was a victim of a war crime against prisoners of war. When under questioning he was physically abused, but he did not specify who precisely abused him, nor did he state that the defendants were the persons who were abusing him.

The defendants, by participating in armed rebellion, detained the injured person. However, there was not a single evidence exhibited during the trial that would substantiate the allegation that they had committed any act which would qualify under war crime against war prisoners.

 

However, in February 2009, the Požega ŽDO filed a request for the reopening of the case. This was based on the report and official note of the interview conducted with the injured person Željko Makarun.[2]

 

The Požega County Court permitted the re-opening of the case (i.e. a new criminal proceedings).

 

In July, the Court heard (before the Extra-trial Chamber) the injured person Željko Makarun. In his testimony he stated that the defendants, whom he knew from before most likely came with the purpose to pick him up and take him to Bučje and that it was obvious that they intended to take no one else but him. He specified that the defendants were not guards in Bučje and that he did not see them there at all.

 

Then, the Požega ŽDO altered the indictment. The defendants were charged that, as members of Serb-chetnik formations located in Bučje area, came armed to the warehouse of the shop where Željko Makarun was working. They seized various goods from him and then, under the threat of weapons, forced him to come along and took him to Bučje. Thus, by participating in the armed rebellion, they committed a criminal act against the Republic of Croatia – armed rebellion under Article 236, item (f) of the KZRH.

 

We believe that the indictment against the aforementioned defendants was carelessly instigated in 1993, that the judicial proceedings which followed was conducted without willingness to determine complete and correct facts. All this resulted in a guilty verdict for a war crime against civilians.

 

Considering that the State Attorney’s Office of the Republic of Croatia announced the lodging of requests for the re-opening of trials in respect of as many as 90 persons who were sentenced in absentia for war crimes, this procedure obviously serves as an example of previous unprofessionally conducted and ethnically biased trials.

 

However, even the reopened trial contained incorrect court actions too, but this time of procedural nature. Namely, after the prosecution modified the indictment, the Council terminated criminal proceedings against the defendant on the basis of the General Amnesty Act, but it failed to quash the previous (convicting) verdicts reached by the Požega District Court and the Croatian Supreme Court. [3]

Therefore, two different decisions currently exist in respect of the accused persons: the convicting verdict reached previously by the Požega District Court and upheld by the Supreme Court’s ruling and the decision on the cancellation of the proceedings issued on 13 July 2009.



[1]Under the Geneva Convention, prisoners of war are defined as “1. Members of the armed forces of a party to the conflict and members of militias and of volunteer corps of such armed forces; 2. Members of other militias and members of other volunteer corps…”

[2] As of 1 January 2009, the provisions of the new Criminal Procedure Act (OG 152/08) are applied in respect of extraordinary judicial remedy for the reopening of criminal proceedings. It is also new that the state attorney’s office can file a request, beneficial to the convicted person, for the reopening of the case that was concluded by a final verdict, regardless of the fact whether the convicted person was present or not.

[3]Paragraph 2, Article 508 of the ZKP (OG 152/08) reads: ” If the new proceedings are discontinued before the beginning of the trial, the court shall annul the previous judgement by a ruling on discontinuation of the proceedings.”

Crime in Koprivna near Požega


The Požega County Court conducted a re-opened procedure against the absent Bogdan Delić and Stevan Šteković who were sentenced in 1993 in absentia to 8 years in prison for a war crime against civilians. During the re-opened procedure, after the indictment was re-qualified to the criminal act of armed rebellion, the criminal procedure against the aforementioned defendants was terminated.
COURSE OF THE PROCEEDINGS

The indictment issued by the Požega District State’s Attorney’s Office No. KT-81/92 of 25 March 1993, charged the defendants Bogdan Delić and Stevan Šteković that on 29 August 1991, in the morning hours, in the village of Koprivna, Požega Municipality, as members of the so-called “Territorial Defence of SAO Western Slavonija”, during the armed conflict in the north-western part of the Požega Municipality and the Pakrac Municipality, contrary to the provisions of Articles 31 and 34 of the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilians in Time of War, stopped Dubravko Klanfar who was driving his tractor and a trailer on the Striježevica – Milivojevci road, collecting milk. They pointed an automatic rifle to Dubravko Klanfar, searched him and then put him in the trailer and drove him to the village of Cikota. Under threat of weapons, they requested from him data about the Croatian Military and the Croatian Police units, about their deployment and armament. After that, they drove him to the village of Bučje, Pakrac Municipality, where a detention camp was located. They kept him in the camp as hostage for 46 days, until 13 October 1991 when he was exchanged. Dubravko Klanfar was exchanged with several other persons of Croatian ethnicity who were detained in the same or similar manner. They were exchanged for persons deprived of liberty due to criminal acts committed against the Republic of Croatia.

 

Therefore, they were charged that, having violated the rules of the international law during an armed conflict, they took one civilian hostage and unlawfully detained him, whereby they committed a criminal act against humanity and international law – a war crime against civilians, described and punishable pursuant to Article 120, paragraph 1 of the Basic Criminal Law of the RoC (hereinafter: the OKZ RH).

You can read the indictment issued by the Požega District State’s Attorney’s Office No. KT-81/92 of 25 March 1993 here. (in Croatian)

The defendants were tried in absentia.

On 20 May 1993, the Požega District Court passed a verdict No. K-31/93 in which the defendants Bogdan Delić and Stevan Šteković were found guilty that, having violated the rules of the international law during an armed conflict, they took one civilian hostage and unlawfully detained him, whereby they committed a criminal act against civilians referred to in Article 120, paragraph 1 of the OKZ RH. Each defendant was sentenced to 8 years in prison.

You can read the verdict No. K-31/93 issued by the Požega District Court on 20 May 1993 here. (in Croatian)

No appeal was lodged against the aforementioned verdict.

On 9 February 2009, the Požega-Slavonija Police Administration forwarded to the Požega County State’s Attorney’s Office (hereinafter: the ŽDO) a special report No. KU-851/92 and an official note on the performed informative talk with the injured party Dubravko Klanfar.

On 10 February 2009, the Požega ŽDO filed an ex-officio request for re-opening of the procedure because it deemed that the facts mentioned in the aforementioned report and the note permitted the defendants to be sentenced pursuant to a more lenient law.

The ruling of the Extra-trial Chamber of the Požega County Court No. Kv-20/09 of 17 February 2009 permitted the re-opening of the criminal procedure against the defendant Bogdan Delić and the defendant Stevan Šteković pursuant to the provisions of Articles 500 and 501, paragraph 1, item 3 of the Criminal Procedure Act (hereinafter: the ZKP) in relation to Article 504, paragraph 2 of the ZKP.

You can read the ruling of the Extra-trial Chamber of the Požega County Court No. Kv-20/09 of 17 February 2009 here. (in Croatian)

On 9 July 2009, witness Dubravko Klanfar was heard before the Extra-trial Chamber. The Požega ŽDO requested the file to be forwarded to the Požega ŽDO for possible modification of the indictment.

You can read the report from 9 July here. (in Croatian)

After the Požega ŽDO modified the indictment (see the modified indictment) and charged the defendants Bogdan Delić and Stevan Šteković with committing a criminal act of armed rebellion referred to in Article 236f of the Criminal Code of the RoC (hereinafter: the KZ RH), the Požega County Court passed a ruling No. Kv-64/09 of 13 July 2009 in which, pursuant to Article 2, paragraph 2 of the General Amnesty Act, it suspended the criminal procedure against the defendants.

You can read the Ruling on suspension of the procedure. (in Croatian)
GENERAL INFORMATION

Požega County Court

Case number: K-5/09

War Crime Council: Judge Predrag Dragičević, Council President; Judge Tihomir Božić, Council member and Judge Žarko Kralj, Council member

Prosecution: Božena Jurković, Požega County Deputy State’s Attorney

Criminal act: war crime against civilians referred to in Article 120, paragraph 1 of the OKZ RH, after the re-qualification armed rebellion referred to in Article 236f of the KZ RH

Criminal act: Bogdan Delić and Stevan Šteković (in both procedures they were tried in absentia)

Defence counsel: Julka Lučić – Prša, a lawyer practising in Požega, court-appointed defence counsel

Victim: Dubravko Klanfar

 

 

OPINION OF THE MONITORING TEAM FOLLOVING THE CONDUCTED RE-OPENED PROCEDURE
Following the conducted re-opened procedure in which the Požega County State’s Attorney’s Office (hereinafter: the ŽDO) modified the indictment charging the defendants with committing a criminal act of armed rebellion referred to in Article 236 f of the Criminal Code of the RoC (hereinafter: the KZ RH), the Požega County Court passed a ruling No. Kv-64/09 of 13 July 2009 by which, pursuant to Article 2, paragraph 2 of the General Amnesty Act, the criminal procedure against the defendants was terminated.
On 25 March 1993, the Požega ŽDO issued the indictment No. KT-81/92 against the defendants Bogdan Delić and Stevan Šteković for a war crime against civilians referred to in Article 120, paragraph 1 of the Basic Criminal Law of the RoC (hereinafter: the OKZ RH). They were charged that on 29 August 1991 in the village of Koprivna, Požega Municipality, as members of the so-called Territorial Defense of SAO Western Slavonija, during the armed conflict in the north-western part of the Požega Municipality and the Pakrac Municipality, contrary to the provisions of Articles 31 and 34 of the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, they stopped Dubravko Klanfar who was driving his tractor and a trailer on the Striježevica – Milivojevci road, collecting milk. They pointed an automatic rifle at him, searched him and then put him in the trailer and drove him to the village of Cikota. Under threat of weapons, they requested from him data about the Croatian Military and the Croatian Police units, about their deployment and armament. After that, they drove him to the village of Bučje, Pakrac Municipality, where a detention camp was located. They kept him in the camp as hostage for 46 days, until 13 October 1991 when he was exchanged, together with several other persons of Croatian ethnicity who were detained in the same or similar manner, for persons deprived of liberty due to criminal acts committed against the Republic of Croatia.

The Požega County Court accepted the indictment in its entirety. The defendants were charged, inter alia, with keeping the injured party hostage although that claim was not substantiated with evidence. Therefore, the Court needed to request from the prosecution to modify the indictment. The injured party stated already during the investigation that he was driven to Bučje in a van and that, after Bučje, he did not see the defendants any more. Moreover, the defendants were charged with keeping the injured party hostage for 46 days.
On 20 May 1993, the defendants were found guilty and sentenced to eight years in prison each.
The court-appointed defence counsel for both defendants lodged no appeal against the aforementioned verdict and, since the prosecution did not lodge an appeal against it either, the verdict became legally valid on 24 June 1993, upon the expiry of the appellate deadline.

Following the adoption of a new Criminal Procedure Act (Official Gazette 152/08) which rendered it possible for the State Attorney’s Office to request re-opening of procedures in relation to unavailable defendants, the Požega ŽDO filed a request for re-opening of the procedure. It based its request on a special report issued by the Požega-Slavonija Police Administration and an official note on performed informative talk with the injured party Dubravko Klanfar.

The re-opening of the criminal procedure was granted and, after the injured party Dubravko Klanfar was heard before the Extra-trial Chamber, the Požega ŽDO modified the indictment on 10 February. The modified indictment charged the defendants that, as members of the so-called Territorial Defense of SAO Western Slavonija, on 29 August 1991 in the village of Koprivna near Požega, armed with automatic rifles, on the Striježevica – Milivojevci road they stopped a tractor driven by Dubravko Klanfar. Then, under threat of weapons, they ordered Dubravko Klanfar to sit in the tractor trailer, put a backpack over his head and drove him to the village of Cikote where they handed him over to unidentified persons, members of Serb-chetnik formations, who took the injured party to Bučje, whereby they participated in the armed rebellion and committed a criminal act against the Republic of Croatia, armed rebellion referred to in Article 236 f of the KZ RH.

It is evident that this modification of the indictment follows in the footsteps of the State Attorney’s Office strategy of re-examination of validly concluded war crimes procedures, particularly those conducted in the absence of the convicts.

However, in this particular case there is a series of problems.

The provision of Article 501, paragraph 1, item 3 stipulated that a criminal procedure concluded with a legally valid verdict will be re-opened to the benefit of the convicts regardless of the fact whether they were present or not, providing that “new facts or new evidence is presented which, by itself or in relation with previous evidence, might lead to the release of a person who was convicted or for him/her to be sentenced pursuant to a more lenient law”.

There are no new facts contained in the statement of reasons of the request for re-opening of the criminal procedure or in the injured party’s testimony provided before the Extra-trial Chamber in the re-opened procedure. The injured party Dubravko Klanfar testified the same in 1993 and in 2009.

Crime in Zamlača, Struga and Kozibrod


In February 2009, a main hearing was held at the Sisak County Court in the trial against Đuro Đurić charged for a war crime against civilians pursuant to Article 120, paragraph 1 of the Basic Criminal Law of the Republic of Croatia (OKZRH). After modification of the factual and legal description and the modification of legal qualification of the offence stated in the indictment (legal qualification – war crime- was modified into armed rebellion), on 11 February 2009, the Court Council issued the verdict on suspension of indictment.

INDICTMENT

The defendant Đuro Đurić, together with the first defendant Predrag Orlović et al. was charged that, on 26 July 1991, in the villages of Zamlača, Struga and Kozibrod, as members of paramilitary units of the so-called “Krajina Militia”, armed with long infantry weapons and heavy armament, aiming to undermine and bring down the newly established polity of the Republic of Croatia and aiming to join the municipalities Kostajnica and Dvor to the para-state “SAO Krajina”, and this being a part of their criminal plan, they were expelling Croatian population from the mentioned villages, used the latter before them as the live wall, were setting houses on fire and were planting mines, they killed several persons and seriously injured a larger number of victims, hence by violating the rules of the international law at the time of armed conflict they were killing civilians, performed the robbing of and destruction of property to a large scale and thereby committed a war crime against civilians, punishable pursuant to Article 120, paragraph 1 of the OKZRH.
At the main hearing held on 11 February 2009, the County Deputy State’s Attorney modified the factual description, legal description as well as the legal qualification of the offence stated in the indictment to be worded as follows:
“on not precisely determined date during 1991, the defendant Đuro Đurić joined paramilitary units of the so-called SAO Krajina and got into possession of a weapon, with the purpose to undermine and bring down the newly established democratic social order of the Republic of Croatia, which he obviously was not satisfied with, and within such a plan together with other members of paramilitary unitshe participated in the attack on the villages of Zamlača, Struga and Kozibrod on 26 July 1991, with the aim to separate that area from the territory of the Repubic of Croatia and to join that area to the para-state SAO Krajina, and he took part in an armed rebellion directed at jeopardising the state and social organisation and the security of the Republic of Croatia (stipulated by the Constitution), and thereby he committed a criminal offence against the Republic of Croatia – an armed rebellion – described and punishable pursuant to Article 236f, paragraph 1 of the Criminal Law of the Republic of Croatia (KZRH).”
GENERAL INFORMATION

Sisak County Court

Case number: K 29/01

War Crime Council (the panel): judge Melita Avedić, Council President, judges Ljubica Rendulić Holzer and Predrag Jovanić, Council members

Indictment: KT-61/93, issued by the Sisak County State’s Attorney’s Office on 4 November 1994 against Predrag Orlović et al. (another 34 indictees, and Đuro Đurić among them as the 11th indictee), modified at the main hearing held on 11 February 2009

Prosecution: Jadranka Huskić, the Sisak County Deputy State’s Attorney

Criminal offence: a war crime against civilians pursuant to Article 120, paragraph 1 of the OKZRH, after the modification of the indictment – armed rebellion pursuant to Article 236f, paragraph 1 of the KZRH

Defendant: Đuro Đurić, was not available to the Croatian judiciary until 3 February 2009; an arrest warrant was issued; the defendant was in detention from 3 February 2009

Defence: Zdravko Baburak, lawyer from Zagreb

Victims – the murdered: Mile Blažević, Pajo Žuljevac, Pajo Knežević, Mile Begić, Mile Pušić, Manda Begić, Pero Španičić, Milan Bartolović, Žarko Gundić, Goran Faljević, Ivica Perić, Mladen Halapa, Branko Vuk, Zoran Šaronja, Davor Vukas, Željko Filipović
TRIAL MONITORING REPORTS

According to the County Deputy State’s Attorney, the proceedings was separated in relation to other defendants, for reasons that majority of them were not available to Croatian judiciary, and that some of the defendants were already tried individually as when they became available. Until present, only the 10th defendant Dragan Vranešević was sentenced to 15 years of imprisonment. The defendants Tošo Sundać, Slavko Tadić, Goran Barač, Dušan Badić, Dalibor Borota and Rade Lukač allegedly died or were killed, but since there are no official documents available about it from the relevant institutions, the proceedings against the mentioned persons is still not suspended.

The defendant Đuro Đurić was tried in 2001. At that time he was detained, however, after the detention suspension, he no longer responded to the summons to appear at a hearing. A detention order was issued again against the defendant as well as an arrest warrant, but finally he surrendered voluntarily.
VERDICT

After modification of the legal qualification stated in the indictment, pursuant to Article 353, item 6 of the Criminal Procedure Act (ZKP), and in conjunction with Article 2, paragraph 2 of the General Amnesty Act, the Council pronounced a verdict on suspension of the indictment.

The defendant, pursuant to Article 123, paragraph1 of the ZKP, was exempted from paying the criminal proceedings expenses.

The Council also issued a decision whereby by applying Article 107 of the ZKP the detention order against the defendant was suspended.
OPINION OF THE MONITORING TEAM AFTER THE CONCLUDED TRIAL

The trial against Đuro Đurić before the War Crimes Council of the Sisak County Court was conducted in a correct manner, and despite some minor procedural omissions which we noted when reporting on the main hearing, we have no objections either to the procedure conduct by the court, or to the issued court decision.

The mentioned omissions related to the fact that the witnesses were not cautioned in a prescribed manner stated in Article 324 and Article 236 of the ZKP, although it was entered in the court records that the witness had actually been cautioned in accordance with the mentioned provisions.

However, we find it necessary to note that on the occasion when the County State’s Attorney’s Office was changing the bill of indictment (charges) and the legal qualification stated in the indictment – from the war crime against civilians (referred to in Article 120, paragraph 1 of the OKZRH) into the armed rebellion (referred to in Article 236f, paragraph 1 of the KZRH), it failed to take into consideration the testimony of the witness Marija Stipić, who was the only witness who actually charged the defendant, in sense of a possible extension of the bill of indictment (charges) in that direction and further clarification of the circumstances concerned.

Namely, this witness stated that the def. Đuro Đurić took her to Dvor, to the police station premises, to have her beaten up, resulting with serious physical injuries.

Since this event occurred at the time after the incriminating period, this event could not have been the subject matter of the court ruling in this crime case.

We are of opinion that the modification and amendment to the indictment in this direction, and a possible supplementary investigation could have shed more light on the particular event and could have verified the information, which the witness obtained by hearsay, that the defendant Đuro Đurić took the witness’ mother and brother to the bank of Una river where her mother was slaughtered and thrown into the river, and the brother was handcuffed and also thrown into the river.

The practice of issuing joint indictments against several perpetrators of the same criminal act, which was frequently followed in respect of inaccessible perpetrators of war crime against civilians and other related crimes, and the practice of subsequent separation of the proceedings against an individual defendant who would at a certain moment become reachable to the judiciary, along with retaining the same, very generalized indictment, is in our opinion a highly suspect practice.

In respect of the indictment, and in accordance with the accusatory nature of the Croatian criminal procedure, we find the conducted proceedings and the verdict to be correct.

Crime in Glina prison

The Sisak County Court, in the re-opened proceedings against Petar Baltić and ten other persons validly sentenced in 1993 in absentia to 20 years in prison each for a war crime against civilians and a war crime against war prisoners, after the prosecution dropped charges, annulled the previous (convicting) verdict and passed the verdict in which the indictment was suspended.
INDICTMENT (SUMMARY)

The indictment issued by the Sisak District Public Prosecutor’s Office No. KT-168/92 dated 26 November 1992 charged the defendant Đuro Birač, as manager of the Glina Prison and other 11 defendants as prison guards that, in the period between 26 June 1991 and 31 March 1992 in Glina, as members of chetnik-terrorist formations of the so-called SAO Krajina, the defendant Birač ordered and other defendants executed that order to detain captured civilians and members of the Croatian National Guard (hereinafter: the ZNG) into solitary cells, to torture and beat them, as a result of which numerous civilians and captured members of the ZNG sustained multiple severe physical injuries, while one civilian (Ivo Palajić) and two captured members of the ZNG (Stjepan Šmisl and Ivan Gregurić) died as a result of injuries sustained, whereby the defendants committed the criminal acts of a war crime against civilians and a war crime against war prisoners.

You can see the abovementioned indictment here. (in Croatian)

Course of the proceedings

The defendants were tried in absentia.

In the verdict No. K-25/92 passed by the Sisak District Court on 22 January 1993, the defendants were found guilty for both criminal acts and each defendant was sentenced to 20 years in prison for each criminal act, so that each defendant was sentenced to a joint prison sentence in the duration of 20 years.

You can see the verdict of the Sisak District Court here. (in Croatian)

On 7 December 1993, the Supreme Court of the RoC denied the appeals lodged by the defence counsels of the convicts Milan Ljubičić and Dragan Matijević and fully upheld the verdict of the first instance court.

You can see the verdict of the Supreme Court here. (in Croatian)

However, on 6 February 2009, the Sisak County State’s Attorney’s Office (hereinafter: the ŽDO) filed a request for re-opening of the criminal proceedings with regard to II-XII convicts (Petar Baltić, Stevan Bjelajac, Đuka Bogunović, Milan Ljubičić, Vlado Ćordaš, Dragan Tintor, Petar Vladić, Dragan Matijević, Ilija Baždar and Rade Baždar). The request was not filed only with regard to the 1st convict Đuro Birač.

You can see the request for re-opening of the criminal proceedings by the Sisak ŽDO No. KT-168/92 of 6 February 2009 here. (in Croatian)

The ruling of the Sisak County Court No. Kv 135/09 (K-25/92) of 8 July 2009 accepted the request by the Sisak ŽDO and the re-opening of the criminal proceedings was allowed.

You can see the abovementioned ruling here. (in Croatian)

In the re-opened proceedings, after the prosecution dropped charges, the Court annulled the previous convicting verdict and suspended the indictment.
GENERAL DATA

Sisak County Court

Case number: K- 33/09

War Crime Council: Judge Melita Avedić, Council President; Judge Ljubica Baldar, Council member; Judge Višnja Vukić, Council member

Indictment: issued by the Sisak District Public Prosecutor’s Office No. KT-168/92 dated 26 November 1992

Prosecution: Ivan Petrkač, Sisak County Deputy State’s Attorney

Criminal act: war crime against civilians and a war crime against war prisoners

The defendants (re-opened proceedings): Petar Baltić, Stevan Bjelajac, Đuka Bogunović, Milan Ljubičić, Vlado Ćordaš, Dragan Tintor, Petar Vladić, Ilija Đaković, Dragan Matijević, Ilija Baždar and Rade Baždar, they were tried in absentia

Defence counsels: Domagoj Rupčić, Danko Kovač, Zorko Kostanjšek, Mario Milardović, Željko Andrijević, Željko Stanković, Nada Kovačević, Dragan Crnković, Nataša Čučić, Irena Periček, Dinko Ocvarek

Victims:
– civilians:

abused (sustained multiple severe physical injuries): Stjepan Milošić, Joso Mlađenović, Ivo Kocmanić, Pavao Štajduhar, Stjepan Benković, Branko Žilić, Vojislav Skendžić, Ivica Pereković and Željko Ponižić

died as a result of injuries sustained: Ivo Palajić

– war prisoners:

– abused (sustained multiple severe physical injuries): Josip Čačić, Željko Grbić, Đuro Kovačević and Boris Prišek

died as a result of injuries sustained: Stjepan Šmisl and Ivo Gregurić
REPORTS FROM THE TRIAL

Glina Prison – reports from the trial (in Croatian)

VERDICT

On 24 November 2009, after the prosecution dropped charges, the War Crimes Council passed a verdict which annulled the previous convicting verdict and passed the acquitting verdict and suspended the indictment.

Crime in Borovo Commerce

In the ruling No. K-58/05 of 4 December 2008, the criminal procedure No. K-58/05 conducted before the Vukovar County Court against the defendant Vlado Tepavac for a war crime against civilians referred to in Article 120, paragraph 1 of the Basic Criminal Law of the RoC (hereinafter: the OKZ RH) was suspended. Previously, the Vukovar County State’s Attorney’s Office (hereinafter: the ŽDO) filed a submission on 21 November 2008 in which it changed the factual description, legal description and legal qualification of the criminal act (into the criminal act of armed rebellion). By applying the provision of Article 2, paragraph 2 of the General Amnesty Act, the procedure against the defendant was suspended.

 

 

INDICTMENT (SUMMARY)

The defendant Vlado Tepavac was indicted that on 19 November 1991 in Borovo Naselje, after the so-called JNA and chetnik paramilitary forces entered Borovo Naselje having broken the resistance of the defenders, as a member of paramilitary formations, near the building of Borovo Commerce factory, contrary to Article 3, paragraph 1, item 1a of the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, he approached a group of already singled out civilians. Then he grabbed Petar Drejić by his chest, dragged him out of the group and beat him up with his fists. By doing so, having violated the principles of the international humanitarian law during an armed conflict, he inhumanely treated civilian population, caused them huge suffering and inflicted injuries against their physical integrity, whereby he committed a war crime against civilians, described and punishable pursuant to Article 120, paragraph 1 of the OKZ RH.

GENERAL DATA

Vukovar County Court

Case number: K-58/05

War Crimes Council: Judge Nikola Bešenski, Council President; Judge Slavko Teofilović, Council member; Judge Stjepan Margić, Council member

Indictment: No. DT-298/92 of 28 December 1995 (issued by the Osijek ŽDO), case transferred to the Vukovar ŽDO, No. K-DO-37/04 of 19 July 2004

Prosecuting attorney: Vlatko Miljković, Deputy Vukovar County State’s Attorney

Criminal act: war crime against civilians, Article 120, paragraph 1 of the OKZ RH

Defendant: Vlado Tepavac

Defence counsel: Vojislav Ore, a lawyer practising in Vukovar

Victim – beaten up: Petar Drejić

 

MONITORING REPORTS

The Osijek ŽDO instigated the indictment No. KT-298/92 of 28 December 1995 against Milan Gojković, Dragan Lapčević, Vlado Tepavac and Veso Praća due to war crime against civilians committed on 19 November 1991 in Borovo Naselje.

The Osijek County Court passed a verdict No. K-6/96 on 4 December 1996 in which Milan Gojković, Dragan Lapčević, Vlado Tepavac and Veso Praća were found guilty of war crime against civilians referred to in Article 120, paragraph 1 of the OKZ RH. The defendant Milan Gojković received a joint sentence in the duration of 20 years, while the defendants Dragan Lapčević, Vlado Tepavac and Veso Praća were sentenced to five years in prison.

You can read that verdict here. (in Croatian)

The verdict became final on 27 February 1997.

The ruling of the Osijek County Court No. Kv-447/99 of 10 December 1999, suspended criminal proceedings against the defendant Dragan Lapčević after the Osijek ŽDO in the re-opened procedure and prior to the beginning of the main hearing, in a submission No. KT-298/92 of 9 September 1999, abandoned criminal prosecution against him. The aforementioned ruling quashed the verdict of the Osijek County Court No. K-6/96 of 4 December 1996 in the part pertaining to Dragan Lapčević, in which he had been found guilty and sentenced to five years in prison.

You can read the ruling of the Extra-Trial Chamber of the Osijek County Court on the suspension of the proceedings against Dragan Lapčević here. (in Croatian)

Upon his return to the Republic of Croatia, Vlado Tepavac was arrested. Proceedings against him were re-opened.

You can read the ruling on the re-opening of the proceedings here. (in Croatian)

In the re-opened procedure, the Vukovar County Court passed a verdict No. 36/04 on 28 September 2004 by which the verdict of the Osijek County Court No. K6/96 of 4 December 1996 was partially annulled in relation to the defendant Vlado Tepavac. In the quoted verdict of the Vukovar County Court, the defendant was acquitted of charges. The Vukovar ŽDO lodged an appeal against that verdict.
The Supreme Court of the Republic of Croatia quashed the acquitting verdict and reversed the case for a re-trial.

The re-opened procedure, conducted for the second time, was supposed to start on 18 December 2006, but the defendant did not appear before the court. Police employees received an order to summon the defendant to a new court hearing which was scheduled for 15 January 2007.

On 15 January 2007, the defendant did not appear at the main hearing. It was decided to request a report from the police about the reasons why the defendant was not summoned to the main hearing.

After that, no main hearing sessions were scheduled at all.

In the ruling No. K-58/05 of 4 December 2008, after the Vukovar ŽDO modified the factual description, legal description and legal qualification of the criminal act (into the criminal act of armed rebellion), the criminal procedure against the defendant was suspended by applying the provision of Article 2, paragraph 2 of the General Amnesty Act.

Crime in the village of Poljanak

Upon request by the Gospić County State’s Attorney’s Office (hereinafter: the ŽDO), criminal proceedings were re-opened against Boško Žujić, Boško Grbić, Vinko Grbić, Mićo Grbić, Vladimir Grbić, Slavko Grbić and Dane Rodić, who were in 1994 validly sentenced in absentia to 15 years in prison for a war crime against civilians.

After the decision that allowed the re-opening of the proceedings was passed, the Gospić ŽDO modified the indictment, charging the afore-mentioned persons with the criminal act of armed rebellion.

The Court annulled the previous verdict and, having applied the General Amnesty Act, terminated the criminal proceedings against the aforementioned defendants.
COURSE OF THE PROCEEDINGS

The indictment issued by the Gospić District State’s Attorney’s Office charged the defendant Boško Žujić et al. (a total of eight of them) with a war crime against civilians referred to in Article 142 of the Basic Criminal Law of the RoC (hereinafter: the OKZ RH), committed by killing the civilians of Croat ethnicity in the village of Poljanak, which is located in Korenica area.

The verdict of the Gospić County Court No. K-15/92 of 4 July 1994 found eight defendants (Boško Žujić, Boško Grbić, Vinko Grbić, Mićo Grbić, Vladimir Grbić, Slavko Grbić, Dane Rodić and Momčilo Grbić) guilty in absentia that on 7 November 1991, having entered the village of Poljanak (Titova Korenica Municipality) which was inhabited exclusively by the population of Croat ethnicity, took the inhabitants who happened to be in the village on that day out of their houses, gathered them in the yard of a house and fired at them, whereby they killed: Josip Matovina, Nikola Matovina, Dana Vuković, Nikola Vuković, Milka Vuković, Lucija Vuković, Nikola Vuković and Vjekoslav Vuković and soon afterwards they killed Ivan and Nikola Vuković, after which they took all valuable items and money from their houses and set the houses on fire.

Due to the commission of a war crime against civilians, each of the defendants was sentenced to 15 years in prison.

The statement of reasons of the verdict contained witness testimonies. However, not a single witness stated that he had recognised the defendants among the perpetrators of the crime in Poljanak. Witnesses stated that the perpetrators were masked and that it was impossible to recognise them.

You can see the verdict of the Gospić County Court here. (in Croatian)

The verdict of the Gospić County Court was upheld by the verdict of the Supreme Court of the RoC No.: I-Kž-121/1995 of 1 October 1997.

The Gospić County State’s Attorney’s Office filed a request for re-opening of the proceedings No. KT-28/92 of 11 February 2009.

It stated that the ruling of the Gospić County Court of 7 June 2004 permitted the re-opening of the proceedings in relation to Momčilo Grbić who filed a request for re-opening after he had returned to the RoC, and that in the re-opened proceedings held on 1 October 2004 the indictment with regard to him was rejected.

The request of the Gospić ŽDO also stated that employees of the Korenica Police Station performed talks with the persons who resided in the area of Poljanak in the autumn of 1991 and that these persons did not have information that any of the convicts had been killing civilians, looted and set civilians’ property on fire. They were aware that Vladimir Grbić and Vinko Grbić had been tasked with burying the bodies, while they heard rumours that the perpetrators of the crime had been members of paramilitary formations from Korenica led by Major Cvjetičanin, as well as volunteers and mercenaries from Serbia.

The request proposed that the Council President should establish the facts by questioning the inhabitants of Poljanak.

You can read the request for re-opening of the proceedings here. (in Croatian)

The ruling of the Gospić County Court No. Kv-18/09 of 21 April 2009 permitted the re-opening of the criminal proceedings.

Namely, after the questioning carried out by the Council President, it was concluded that conditions had been created for the re-opening of the criminal proceedings.

You can see the abovementioned ruling on re-opening here. (in Croatian)

In a letter dated 9 November 2009, the Gospić ŽDO modified the factual description and legal qualification of the criminal act from the indictment.

The defendants are now charged with the commission of a criminal act of armed rebellion.

You can see the modified indictment here. (in Croatian)

Since the criminal act of armed rebellion is covered by amnesty, the criminal proceedings were terminated.

You can see the ruling of the Gospić County Court which annulled the sentencing verdict and which terminated the proceedings here. (in Croatian)

Crime in Virovitica

The Panel of the Supreme Court of the RoC, at its session held on 24 March 2009, rejected the appeal lodged by the State Attorney’s Office as unfounded and upheld the verdict of the War Crime Council of the Bjelovar County Court which, in the repeated proceedings, acquitted Željko Iharoš and Luka Perak who were charged with committing a crime in Virovitica.
INDICTMENT (SUMMARY)

In the indictment No. K-DO-62/01 dated 15 January 2001, the defendant Željko Iharoš, the defendant Ivan Vrban, the defendant Anđelko Kašaj and the defendant Luka Perak were charged that, in the time period between 1 November and 17 December 1991, in Virovitica, during an armed conflict between the armed forces of the RoC and the JNA (Yugoslav People’s Army) and associated paramilitary formations, with the intent of forcible bringing, torture and killing of civilians, contrary to Article 4, paragraph 1, item a of the 2nd Protocol Additional from 1997 to the 1st Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilians in Time of War dated 12 August 1949, the 1st defendant Željko Iharoš, as commander of a military police platoon, ordered military policemen to forcibly bring, inter alia, civilians Bogdan Mudrinić, Ranko Mitrić, Rade Svorcan and Đuro Svorcan. Having interrogated the injured party Bogdan Mudrinić, the 1st defendant handed him over to military policemen, the 2nd defendant Ivan Vrban, the 3rd defendant Anđelko Kašaj and the 4th defendant Luka Perak, who beat him up in front of and inside the prison, as a result of which beating the injured party sustained serious injuries and died, after which his body was removed. Ranko Mitrić was forcibly brought from his work post, subjected to interrogation, beaten up and abused on several occasions, after which ordeal he was taken out of the prison and killed, and his body was thrown into the waste pipe by the trunk route No. 16. Đuro Svorcan and Rade Svorcan were forcibly brought, without legal grounds, by the military policemen to the military prison where they were interrogated on several days, threatened to be killed and abused by masked military policemen; on several occasions they were hit all over their bodies with rifle butts, rifles, truncheons, hands and legs, due to which ordeal the injured parties sustained numerous injuries with permanent consequences, of which the 1st defendant Željko Iharoš was aware, but did nothing to prevent it.
GENERAL DATA

Bjelovar County Court

Case: war crime against civilians, Article 120, paragraph 1 of the Basic Criminal Law of the Republic of Croatia (hereinafter: the OKZ RH)

Indictment: issued by the Bjelovar County State’s Attorney’s Office, No. K-DO-62/01 dated 15 November 2001

The defendants: Žaljko Iharoš et al.

War Crime Council: Judge Milenka Slivar, Council President; Judge Božidar Iverac, Council member, Judge Davorka Hudoletnjak, Council member

Prosecuting attorney: Darko Žegarac, Bjelovar County Deputy State’s Attorney

Defence counsels: Mirko Petraš, a lawyer practising in Virovitica, Boris Kozjak, a lawyer practising in Virovitica, Silvije Degen, a lawyer practising in Zagreb,
Stjepan Vošćak, a lawyer practising in Virovitica

Victims:
– died as a result of abuse: Bogdan Mudrinić
– abused, then killed: Ranko Mitrić
– abused: Rade Svorcan and Đuro Svorcan

Attorneys-at-fact: none

Summary of the proceedings:

The Bjelovar County State’s Attorney’s Office issued the indictment No. K-DO-62/01 dated 15 November 2001, against the defendants charging them with a war crime against civilians.

The Bjelovar County Court passed the verdict No. K-55/01 dated 24 January 2002, which convicted the 2nd defendant, the 3rd defendant and the 4th defendant and sentenced each of them to one year in prison, while the 1st defendant was acquitted of charges.

The Supreme Court of the RoC, in its ruling No. I Kž-238/02 dated 6 November 2003, quashed the aforementioned verdict and reversed the case for a re-trial due to erroneously and incompletely established facts.

The repeated proceedings commenced on 19 October 2005 and concluded on 7 March 2006.
MONITORING REPORTS

 

PUBLIC STATEMENTS

At the court hearing held on 19 October 2005, monitors noted the following problems:

  1. The defendants were not detained, despite the fact that they were charged with a war crime against civilians, which is contrary to the provision of Article 102, paragraph 1, item 4 of the Criminal Procedure Act (hereinafter: the ZKP);
  2. Evidence procedure: contrary to the provision of Article 238, paragraph 1 of the ZKP, which stipulates that witnesses are heard individually and without the presence of other witnesses, two witnesses, M.M. and N.B., monitored the hearing of other witnesses in the courtroom before they provided testimonies about the same circumstances as the previous witnesses;
  3. The court records from the main hearing did not record the absence of the 3rd defendant’s defence counsel from the last section of that day’s hearing, or who replaced the absent defence counsel, which is a direct violation of the provision of Article 306 of the ZKP. This particular case involves trial for a war crime, for which a prison sentence in the duration of at least five years or a prison sentence in the duration of twenty years is prescribed and where, pursuant to the provision of Article 65, paragraph 1 of the ZKP, the defendant must have a defence counsel;
  4. Neither the Council President nor the Bjelovar County Deputy State’s Attorney reacted when the 4th defendant verbally attacked the witness M. K. during the evidence procedure;
  5. Neither the Council President nor the Bjelovar County Deputy State’s Attorney attempted to stop the hearing of witnesses in a manner that was incriminating towards the victims and witnesses – injured parties, but such incriminations were entered into the court records;
  6. There were no members of the judicial police in the courtroom who could react in case of need.

VERDICT

On 7 March 2006, the War Crime Council published the verdict in which the defendants Željko Iharoš and Luka Perak were acquitted of charges that they had committed a war crime against civilians referred to in Article 120, paragraph 1 of the OKZ RH.

The Panel of the Supreme Court of the RoC, at its session held on 24 March 2009, rejected the appeal lodged by the State Attorney’s Office and upheld the first instance verdict.

You can see the verdict of the Supreme Court here. (in Croatian)

 

OPINION ON THE REPEATED FIRST INSTANCE PROCEEDINGS AND SUMMARY OF THE PROCEEDINGS


In the repeated proceedings, charges against Ivan Vrban and Anđelko Kašaj were dropped because the Bjelovar County State’s Attorney’s Office abandoned further criminal prosecution in this case. The acquitting verdict was passed against the defendant Željko Iharoš and Luka Perak, which the War Crime Council explained with the impossibility to establish, without reasonable doubt and on the basis of evidence presented, command responsibility of the defendant Željko Iharoš, i.e. individual responsibility of the defendant Luka Perak. Neither the Council nor the prosecuting attorney insisted on re-hearing some of the key prosecution witnesses, which required international cooperation on war crime issues with Serbia. Apart from that, they did not warn or question the circumstances of possible pressure by the defendants’ supporters or by the defendants themselves (they defended themselves at large) on those prosecution witnesses who changed their testimonies claiming that they had been placed under pressure during the investigation – claims which the Council rejected.

Crime in Zamlača, Struga and Kozibrod II

On 8 June 2009, the main hearing was held at the Sisak County Court in the trial against the defendant Predrag Orlović et al., charged with committing the criminal act of war crime against civilians referred to in Article 120, paragraph 1 of the Basic Criminal Law of the RoC (hereinafter: the OKZ RH).

Following the separation of the procedure in relation to the defendants Simo Gaić, Đorđe Borojević and Zoran Tadić and the modification of the indictment (re-qualification to armed rebellion) in relation to the three of them, a verdict was passed which rejected the indictment by way of applying the General Amnesty Act.

INDICTMENT (SUMMARY)

The defendants were charged that on 26 July 1991 in the villages of Zamlača, Struga and Kozibrod, having previously joined the paramilitary formations of the so-called “Krajina Militia”, all armed with heavy weaponry and with the intention of subverting the newly-established democratic society of the RoC, attempting to secede the area of Kostajnica and Dvor municipalities from the RoC and join them to the para-state of the so-called “SAO Krajina”, they entered the aforementioned villages, expelled the population from those villages, exclusively of the Croatian ethnicity, brought this population in front of themselves as the living shield, burned the houses and demolished them by explosive devices and then, unprovoked, they fired rifle shots at the unarmed population, whereby they murdered numerous civilians.

You can read the indictment issued by the Sisak District State’s Attorney’s Office (hereinafter: the ŽDO) No. KT-61/93 of 4 November 1994 against Predrag Orlović et al. here (2.523 KB). (in Croatian)
GENERAL DATA

Sisak County Court

War Crime Council: Judge Melita Avedić, Council President; Judge Predrag Jovanić, Council member and Judge Višnja Vukić, Council member

Case number: K-45/94

Indictment: issued by the Sisak ŽDO, No. KT-61/93 of 4 November 1994, modified on 8 June 2009

Criminal act: war crime against civilians referred to in Article 120, paragraph 1 of the OKZRH; following the separation of the procedure in relation to the defendants Simo Gaić, Đorđe Borojević and Zoran Tadić it was modified (in relation to the three of them) to the criminal act of armed rebellion referred to in Article 236 f, paragraph 1 of the Criminal Code of the RoC (hereinafter: the KZRH).

Prosecuting attorney: Jadranka Huskić, Sisak County Deputy State’s Attorney

Defendants: the 1st defendant Predrag Orlović, the 2nd defendant Milan Begović, the 3rd defendant Nedjeljko Pašić, the 4th defendant Predrag Korizma, the 5th defendant Nenad Korizma, the 6th defendant Leonardo Janković, the 7th defendant Toše Sundać, the 8th defendant Drago Kladar, the 9th defendant Dubravko Kovačević, the 10th defendant Dragan Vranešević, the 11th defendant Đuro Đurić (indictment against him was rejected in February 2009 following the re-qualification of the criminal act to armed rebellion), the 12th defendant Slavko Tadić, the 13th defendant Mirko Tomašević, the 14th defendant Nikola Borčić, the 15th defendant Goran Barač, the 16th defendant Mile Sundać, the 17th defendant Dušan Badić, the 18th defendant Dalibor Borota, the 19th defendant Jan Janković, the 20th defendant Nikola Sundać, the 21st defendant Rade Tintor, the 22nd defendant Rade Lukač, the 23rd defendant Matija Cvetojević, the 24th defendant Mirko Drač, the 25th defendant Simo Gaić, the 26th defendant Milan Joke, the 27th defendant Mustafa Kadunić, the 28th defendant Sebastian Sanela, the 29th defendant Pero Krneta, the 30th defendant Željko Žilić, the 31st defendant Nikola Krnjeta, the 32nd defendant Jovo Akika, the 33rd defendant Đorđe Borojević, the 34th defendant Zoran Tadić, the 35th defendant Dušan Tomašević

Defence counsels: Dijana Brezak, defence counsel of the 33rd defendant Đorđe Borojević, Zdravko Baburak, defence counsel of the 25th defendant Simo Gaić and Zrinka Grabas, defence counsel of the 34th defendant Zoran Tadić

Victims – killed civilians: Mile Blažević, Pajo Žuljevac, Pajo Knežević, Mile Begić, Mile Pušić, Manda Begić, Pero Špančić, Milan Bartolović, Žarko Gundić, Goran Faljević, Ivica Perić, Mladen Halapa, Branko Vuk, Zoran Šaronja, Davor Vukas, Željko Filipović.
MONITORING REPORTS

The majority of the defendants are unavailable to judicial bodies of the RoC.

So far, only the 10th defendant Dragan Vranešević was sentenced to 15 years in prison.

The defendants Tošo Sundać, Slavko Tadić, Goran Barač, Dušan Badić, Dalibor Borota and Rade Lukač allegedly died or deceased, but since there are no official documents issued by the relevant institutions confirming their deaths, the procedure against these persons has not been terminated yet.

In February 2009, we monitored the separated procedure against the 11th defendant Đuro Đurić. Following the re-qualification of the criminal act to armed rebellion; a verdict was passed which rejected the indictment against this defendant.

At the trial hearing held on 8 June 2009, the procedure was separated in relation to the defendants Simo Gaić, Đorđe Borojević and Zoran Tadić, who are unavailable to Croatian judiciary. The indictment was modified in relation to them. Pursuant to the aforementioned modification, they are charged with committing the criminal act of armed rebellion referred to in Article 236 f, paragraph 1 of the KZRH.

Zamlača, Struga and Kozibrod II – monitoring report (in Croatian)
VERDICT

On 8 June 2009, the Council passed a verdict which rejected the indictment against the defendants Simo Gaić, Đorđe Borojević and Zoran Tadić, pursuant to Article 353, item 6 of the Criminal Procedure Act, in relation to Article 2, paragraph 2 of the General Amnesty Act.

Crime in Knin

On 3 July 2008, the War Crimes Council of the Šibenik County Court found the defendant Saša Počuča guilty of a war crime against civilians referred to in Article 120, paragraph 1 of the Basic Criminal Law of the RoC (hereinafter: the OKZ RH) and a war crime against war prisoners referred to in Article 122 of the OKZ RH and sentenced him to 5 (five) years in prison.

The Supreme Court of the RoC (at the public session held on 16 December 2008) altered the verdict of the Šibenik County Court in the decision on sentence and the defendant Počuča received 5 years in prison for each criminal act and was handed down a joint prison sentence in the duration of 8 years.
INDICTMENT (SUMMARY)

The defendant is charged that, in the period between end of June 1991 and February 1992 in Knin, during the armed aggression against the Republic of Croatia by the so-called JNA and paramilitary forces from SR Yugoslavia and armed Serb paramilitary formations belonging to the unconstitutional entity, the so-called Republika Srpska Krajina, after members of the «Martić’s Militia» unlawfully deprived of liberty civilians (count I of the indictment), Croatian Military (HV) members and members of the Croatian Police – MUP (count II of the indictment) and detained them in the District Prison located in the premises of the old and abandoned hospital in Knin, the defendant was performing the duty of a guard in that prison. Acting in the capacity of a “Martić’s policeman”, the defendant was beating the aforementioned detainees on a daily basis with legs, fists, rubber baton, gunstock, wooden bat hold, wooden stake, baton and other hard objects on their heads and all over their bodies, tortured them with electro shocks, as a result of which treatment the detainees would fall on the floor and lose conscience. He jumped on them causing injuries to their bodies, put kitchen salt in their mouths, put out cigarettes in their mouths and forced them to swallow the cigarette ash and kitchen salt; he forced them to wash toilette floors with their tongues and to pick up cigarettes in the prison yard with their mouths, forced them to perform oral sex threatening them with death, which they did fearing for their lives. Thus, as a result of sustained numerous serious physical life-threatening injuries in the shape of bone fractures, internal bleeding and various other serious physical injuries, as well as due to mental torture and abuse, the injured parties suffered permanent damage to their physical and mental health and permanent disability,

1. thus, having violated the rules of the international humanitarian law during an armed conflict, he tortured civilian population and treated them inhumanely,

2. thus, having violated the rules of the international humanitarian law, he tortured, inhumanely treated war prisoners and caused them huge suffering and injuries to their physical integrity and health,

whereby he committed, under count 1, criminal act against humanity and the international humanitarian law, war crime against civilians referred to in Article 120, paragraph 1 of the OKZ RH, and under count 2 criminal act against humanity and international humanitarian law, war crime against war prisoners referred to in Article 122 of the OKZ RH, punishable pursuant to Article 43 of the same Law.

You can read the indictment issued by the Šibenik County State’s Attorney’s Office (hereinafter: the ŽDO), No. K-DO-21/07 of 16 October 2007, here (pdf, 3,73 MB). (in Croatian)

 

GENERAL DATA

Šibenik County Court

Case number: K 52/07

War Crimes Council: Judge Jadranka Biga – Milutin, Council President; Judge Sanibor Vuletin, Council member; Judge Ivo Vukelja, Council member

Indictment: issued by the Šibenik ŽDO, No. K-DO-21/07 of 16 October 2007, modified by a submission dated 28 March 2008 and at the court hearing held on 23 May 2008

Prosecuting attorney: Zvonko Ivić, Deputy Šibenik County State’s Attorney and Sanda Pavlović – Lučić, Deputy Šibenik County State’s Attorney

Criminal act: war crime against civilians referred to in Article 120, paragraph 1 of the OKZ RH and war crime against war prisoners referred to in Article 122 of the OKZ RH

Defendant: Saša Počuča

Defence counsel: Vera Bego, a lawyer practising in Šibenik

Victims (civilians):

– died as a result of injuries sustained: Ivan Hodak

– abused: Šime Čačić, Ante Mioč, Drago Šimić, Ivan Šimić, Ivica Zrno, Ivana Lipak, Živko Mikulić, Diki Šaban, Tomislav Teskera, Krsto Silov, Marko Salopek, Stipe Banovac, Franjo Haužan, Mirko Barbarić, Marko Sikavica, Mato Baković, Marko Baković, Marko Lojić, Davor Lojić, Mirko Pilipović, Mićo Katuša, Ivan Požeg, Lenko Škibola, Stanko Kolčeg, Mile Šindilj, Ante Lojić, Mile Skorup, Ilija Hodak, Ante Kamber, Mile Modrić, Mile Maričić, Ivan Žarković, Ivan Buljan and Mile Slavić.

Victims (abused prisoners): Jakov Ćosić, Žarko Matenda, Ivica Graberski, Nenad Lazarušić, Miho Periš, Ivica Matić, Željko Mrkonjić, Josip Keselj, Božo Franić, Tomislav Grubišić, Zdenko Blažević, Denis Delić, Slavko Silov, Ante Grgić, Ivica Jamičić, Pajo Jamičić, Jure Rogić (pripadnici Hrvatske vojske); Radoslav Bobanović, Milan Špoljarić, Mirko Medunić, Ivan Škorić i Željko Lipak, Velibor Bračić, Ante Slavić, Vladimir Mikulić, Zvonko Maloča, Ante Kunac, Ivica Klanac, Ivan Validžić, Ivan Pavičić, Ante Marinović, Denis Bronić and Ivan Atelj (members of the Croatian MUP).
MONITORING REPORTS

KNIN monitoring reports (in Croatian)

The first hearing was held on 23 January 2008, followed by additional eight hearings at which a total of 26 witnesses were heard. The following witnesses were heard: Šime Čačić, Ivan Hodak, Ivan Šimić, Jakov Ćosić, Ivica Matić, Ivica Graberski, Anđelko Krvavica, Radoslav Bobanović, Tomislav Grubišić, Mirko Medunić, Ivan Škorić, Milan Špoljarić, Ivan Lipak, Nenad Lazarušić, Anto Mioč, Žarko Matenda, Miho Periš, Ilija Hodak, Milan Conjar, Marko Salopek, Dikin Šaban, Tomislav Teskera, Franjo Halužar, Mirko Barbarić, Ivan Požeg and Zvonko Maloča.

At the first hearing held on 23 January 2008, the indictment was read, the defendant entered his guilt plea and presented his defence. At the hearing held on 5 March 2008, the public was excluded during the witness testimony of Tomislav Grubišić, as well as at the hearing held on 7 April 2008 during the witness testimony of Nenad Lazarušić. These testimonies are secret and were not published in monitoring reports.

The Deputy Šibenik County State’s Attorney forwarded a written submission to the Court on 31 March in which he modified the factual description of the indictment K-DO-21/07 of 16 October 2008, so that, along with the names of injured parties from the criminal act under count 1 he also added the following names: Diki Šaban, Tomislav Teskera, Krsto Silov, Marko Salopek, Stipe Banovac, Franjo Halužan, Mirko Barbarić, Marko Sikavica, Mate Baković, Marko Baković, Marko Lojić, Davor Lojić, Mirko Pilipović, Mićo Katuša, Ivan Požeg, Lenko Škibola, Stanko Kolčeg, Mile Šindilj, Ante Lojić, Mile Skorup, Ilija Hodak, Ante Kamber, Mile Modrić, Mile Maričić, Ivan Žarković, while along with the names of injured parties from the criminal act under count 2 he also added the following names: Zdenko Blažević, Denis Delić, Slavko Silov, Ante Grgić, Ivica Jamičić, Pajo Jamičić, Jure Rogić, Velibor Bračić, Ante Slavić, Vladimir Mikulić, Zvonko Maloča, Ante Kunac, Ivica Klanac, Ivan Validžić, Ivan Pavičić, Ante Marinović, Denis Bronić, Ivan Atelj.

The main hearing at the Šibenik County Court was concluded on 3 July 2008 and the Council, following deliberation and voting, reached a verdict pursuant to which the defendant Saša Počuča was found guilty of a war crime against civilians and a war crime against war prisoners and received a joint prison sentence in the duration of 5 years.
VERDICT

The defendant Saša Počuča was found guilty because, in the period between end of August 1991 and beginning of January 1992 in Knin, during the armed aggression by the so-called JNA and paramilitary forces from SR Yugoslavia and armed Serb paramilitary formations, after members of the «Martić’s Militia» unlawfully deprived of liberty civilians (Šimo Čačić, Ante Mioč, Drago Šimić, Ivan Šimić, Ivica Zrno, Živko Mikulić, Mirko Pilipović, Ivan Požeg, Ivan Buljan and Milo Slavić), Croatian Military members (Jakov Ćosić, Žarko Matenda, Ivica Graberski, Nenad Lazarušić, Miho Peruš, Ivica Matić, Željko Mrkonjić, Josip Keselj, Božo Franić, Tomislav Grubišić, Zdenko Blažević and Denis Delić) and members of the Croatian MUP (Radoslav Bobanović, Mirko Medunić, Ivan Škorić, Ante Slavić, Vladimir Mikulić and Ivan Atelj) and detained them in the District Prison located in the premises of the old and abandoned hospital in Knin where the defendant was beating the aforementioned detained civilians and the detained war prisoners on a daily basis with legs, fists, rubber baton, gunstock, wooden bat hold, wooden stake, baton and other hard objects, put kitchen salt onto their injuries, put out cigarettes in their mouths, put a handful of kitchen salt in their mouths, forced them to swallow the cigarette ash and kitchen salt, forced them to wash toilette floors with their tongues and to pick up cigarettes in the prison yard with their mouths, forced them to perform oral sex so that they would be taking turns placing penises into their mouths threatening them that he would kill them and cut off their penises if they failed to comply, which they did fearing for their lives. Thus, as a result of sustained serious physical injuries such as bone fractures, internal bleeding and various other physical injuries, as well as due to mental torture and abuse, the injured parties suffered permanent damage to their physical and mental health and permanent disability. Thereby he committed, under count 1, a criminal act against humanity and the international humanitarian law, war crime against civilians referred to in Article 120, paragraph 1 of the OKZ RH, and under count 2 a criminal act against humanity and international humanitarian law, war crime against war prisoners referred to in Article 122 of the OKZ RH.

The defendant Počuča received 3 years in prison for each criminal act and was handed down a joint prison sentence in the duration of 5 years.

The time he had spent in detention will be calculated into the aforementioned prison sentence (he has been in detention since he was deprived of liberty on 19 April 2007).

Detention against the defendant was extended.

The Supreme Court of the RoC (at the public session held on 16 December 2008) altered the verdict of the Šibenik County Court in the decision on sentence and the defendant Počuča received 5 years in prison for each criminal act and was handed down a joint prison sentence in the duration of 8 years.

You can read the verdict of the Supreme Court here. (in Croatian)
OPINION OF THE MONITORING TEAM AFTER THE FIRST INSTANCE PROCEDURE

The War Crimes Council of the Šibenik County Court found the defendant Saša Počuča guilty of torture, inhumane treatment and imposing of huge suffering and physical injuries to the detained civilians and members of the Croatian MUP and the HV in detention facility at the so-called Old Hospital in Knin. For both criminal acts, a war crime against civilians and a war crime against war prisoners, the defendant received three years in prison and was handed down a joint prison sentence in the duration of five years. During the sentencing procedure, the Court took as mitigating circumstance the fact that the defendant was a young adult at the incriminating time and, by way of applying the sentence mitigation principle, for each of the criminal acts it pronounced a sentence below the minimum sentence stipulated for the criminal acts in question.

Although the defendant denied guilt, the War Crimes Council assessed his defence as unconvincing, bearing in mind the witness testimonies that charged him. As many as 14 heard witnesses, either detained or imprisoned in the detention facility where the defendant was a guard at the incriminating time, directly charged the defendant. Most of them stated that the defendant, as a prison guard, beat them, while several of them stated that he also participated in rape and other forms of abuse.

During the sentencing procedure, the Court applied the sentence mitigation principle. While doing so, it primarily assessed as a mitigating circumstance the defendant’s age at the time of committing a crime, but the question is whether the Supreme Court, should it deem that the facts were correctly established in the first instance procedure, will find the application of the sentence mitigation principle appropriate, particularly taking into account the number of criminal acts the defendant had committed and a large number of injured parties that were, according to the establishment of the first instance court, beaten or in other ways physically (the defendant put kitchen salt on their wounds an put out cigarettes in their mouths…) and sexually abused (the defendant forced them to perform oral sex)[1].

We did not monitor the main hearing in its entirety, but still we would like to point at the omissions that we observed during the monitored hearings:

• Material evidence, documents and testimonies provided during the investigation were neither read nor briefly verbally presented, but the minutes from the court hearing stated otherwise, thus the public had no possibility to access their contents.

• It was recorded in the minutes from the court hearing that the witnesses were properly advised on their duty to testify and on specific legal regulations, but the witnesses were not entirely familiarised with the content of legal regulations.

• Council President posed suggestive questions by paraphrasing some witness testimonies provided during the investigation, stating the names, dates etc. without allowing witnesses to provide this information themselves; thus, in that sense, she left the impression of putting suggestive influence onto witnesses.

• Council President interrupted the closing speech of the defendant. Although in some cases and following a prior warning she is entitled to do so, in this particular case it was not recorded in the minutes from the main hearing that the speech was interrupted and what was the reason for that.

• Council President denied monitors access to the minutes from the court hearing or to the case file.



[1] The Supreme Court of the RoC (at the public session held on 16 December 2008) altered the verdict of the War Crimes Council of the Šibenik County Court in the decision on sentence and the defendant Počuča received 5 years in prison for each criminal act and was handed down a joint prison sentence in the duration of 8 years.