Verdict after appeal

Crime in Ravno Rašće

In the repeated procedure before the Sisak County Court, the War Crimes Council on 26 September 2007 sentenced the defendant Dragan Đokić to 12 (twelve) years in prison due to 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 Supreme Court of the RoC (public session held on 30 January 2008) upheld the verdict of the War Crimes Council of the Sisak County Court.

Previous course of the procedure:

Pursuant to the indictment No. K-DO-43/04 issued by the Sisak County State’s Attorney’s Office on 8 November 2005, the first instance procedure was conducted before the Sisak County Court and completed on 29 June 2006. The War Crimes Council passed a verdict in which Dragan Đokić was found guilty as charged by the indictment and received a non-final prison sentence in the duration of 12 years.

The Supreme Court of the Republic of Croatia established an absolutely essential violation of the criminal procedure provisions and passed a ruling No. I KŽ 897/06-6 which reversed the case to the first instance court for a re-trial.

In the repeated procedure, as stated above, the defendant was again sentenced to 12 years in prison and the Supreme Court of the RoC upheld this verdict.

 

INDICTMENT (SUMMARY)

The defendant Dragan Đokić a.k.a. “Popizdeo”, citizen of Serbia and Montenegro, was charged that on 9 August 1991 in Ravno Rašće, as a member of paramilitary formations of the so-called “SAO Krajina” Army, using the circumstances of armed rebellion, after he and Zoran Arbutina came to the house of Đuro Vučićević, shot at that house from an M-48 rifle. Then he forcefully entered the house, took Đuro Vučićević out and brought him to the Bare area near the Točak spring in the vicinity of Dernovac Banski where he fired a shot from the same rifle at Đuro Vučićević’s head from a close range, causing him an injury due to which Đuro Vučićević died on the spot:

– therefore, during the armed conflict, having violated the rules of the international humanitarian law by unlawfully killing a civilian, Dragan Đokić committed a war crime against civilians punishable pursuant to Article 120 of the OKZ RH.


MONITORING REPORTS

The repeated procedure was conducted before the War Crimes Council in the following composition:
Judge Snježana Mrkoci, Council President

Judge Melita Avedić, Council member

Judge Ljubica Balder, Council member

Prosecuting attorney: Ivan Petrkač, Deputy Sisak County State’s Attorney

Defence counsel: lawyer Dušanka Nenadović

Victim – killed civilian: Đuro Vučičević

Injured party: Janja Vučičević

The repeated procedure commenced on 20 June 2007. The defendant pleaded not guilty for the act with which he was charged in the indictment.

 

VERDICT

On 26 September 2007, the defendant Dragan Đokić was pronounced guilty and sentenced to 12 (twelve) years in prison.

The Supreme Court of the RoC upheld the verdict of the Sisak County Court in which the defendant was sentenced to 12 (twelve) years in prison.

Crime in Korenica


The criminal proceedings were held before the War Crime Council of the Rijeka County Court against the defendant Željko Šuput and the defendant Milan Panić who are charged with a war crime against prisoners of war referred to in Article 122 of the Basic Criminal Law of the Republic of Croatia (hereinafter: the OKZ RH). On 3 October 2008, a non-final verdict was published in which the defendants were found guilty and sentenced to prison terms (the defendant Šuput in the duration of 4 years, while the defendant Panić in the duration of 3 years and 6 months).

 

At the session held on 8 June 2011, the VSRH accepted the defendants’ appeals, quashed the challenged verdict and remanded the case for retrial to the Rijeka County Court.

Repeated trial began on 25 October 2011. On 26 April 2012, the prosecution amended the legal qualification of the criminal offence according to which the defendants are now charged with a war crime against civilians and not any more with a war crime against prisoners of war.

On 12 June 2012, the Rijeka County Court’s War Crimes Council pronounced the verdict in which the defendants were found guilty. Same as in the first-instance proceedings, they were sentenced to the following prison terms: Šuput (4 years) and Panić (3 years and 6 months).
INDICTMENT

The modified indictment by the Rijeka County State’s Attorney’s Office dated 2 October 2008 charges the defendants that, in the period between 15 October 1991 and the end of April 1992, in Korenica, as members of a special militia unit within the armed forces of the so-called SAO Krajina, inhumanely treated war prisoners Nikola Nikolić and Milo Lukač who were captured on 15 October 1991 as members of the Karlovac Police Administration, as well as Perica Bičanić, captured on 23 October 1991. These injured parties, together with other detainees, were detained in the premises of the militia building without basic hygiene and existential conditions, contrary to Article 3 of the Geneva Convention relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War of 12 August 1949. Since the defendants had access to the aforementioned building they, on several occasions and in groups comprising several other militia members of the so-called SAO Krajina, dragged the aforementioned detainees outside their cells into the building hall or the building yard, where they hit detainees with fists and legs wearing military boots, while the 1st defendant Željko Šuput ordered Milo Lukač at least twice to stand still, leaned against the wall, on which occasion the defendant would consecutively hit the injured party with his leg pointing at his head. On one occasion, when guards took detainees out for forced labour, the defendant Željko Šuput ordered Perica Bičanić to wash a personal vehicle despite the fact that water was freezing due to low temperature. On that occasion, the defendant allowed a group of soldiers who were accidentally passing by to hit the injured party with their legs and hands, during which ordeal the defendant insulted the victim’s ethnicity and religion threatening that he could kill him at any moment and no one would hold him responsible for that. During his stay at the aforementioned prison, Nikola Nikolić sustained numerous injuries and haematoma, as well as a spine injury and head contusion with brain injury and, as a consequence, post-traumatic stress; Mile Lukač sustained numerous injuries on the head and body which resulted in decrease in hearing ability, while Perica Bičanić, along with numerous light physical injuries, also sustained a fracture of left hand fingers and forearm,

therefore, having breached the rules of the international law, they were causing great suffering and health damage to war prisoners, whereby they committed a criminal act against war prisoners referred to in Article 122 of the Basic Criminal Law of the Republic of Croatia (hereinafter: the OKZ RH).

On 26 April 2012, the prosecution amended the legal qualification of the criminal offence according to which the defendants are now charged with a war crime against civilians and not any more with a war crime against prisoners of war.

GENERAL INFORMATION

Rijeka County Court

Case number: K-54/07

War Crime Council: Judge Đurđa Jovanić, Council President; Judge Duško Abramović, Council member; Judge Vlado Skorup, Council member

– in the repeated trial: judge Jasenka Kovačić, President of the Council, judges Dina Brusić and Ksenija Zorc, Council Members

Indictment: issued by the Gospić County State’s Attorney’s Office (hereinafter: the ŽDO), No. K-DO-24/06 dated 31 January 2007, modified by the Rijeka ŽDO on 2 October 2008 and 26 April 2012.

Prosecution: Darko Karlović, Rijeka County Deputy State’s Attorney

Criminal act: war crime against prisoners of war – Article 122 of the OKZ RH; after amending the indictment on 26 April 2012 – a war crime against civilians referred to in Article 120, paragraph 1 of the OKZRH

Defendants:
– Željko Šuput – in detention during the initial first-instance trial, attends the trial and is not kept in custody in the repeated trial
– Milan Panić – in detention during the initial first-instance trial, attends the trial and is not kept in custody in the repeated trial

Defence counsels: Goran Crnković, a lawyer practising in Rijeka, court-appointed defence counsel for the defendant Željko Šuput, in the repeated trial Đuro Vučinić, lawyer practising in Rijeka, chosen defence counsel representing defendant Šuput; Dragan Smolić-Ročak, a lawyer practising in Rijeka, court-appointed defence counsel for the defendant Milan Panić

Victims:
– unlawfully detained:
Nikola Nikolić, Mile Lukač and Perica Bičanić
TRIAL MONITORING REPORTS

KORENICA – monitoring reports (in Croatian)

The main hearing before the War Crime Council of the Rijeka County Court commenced on 3 September 2007, after the Supreme Court of the RoC transferred jurisdiction in this particular case from the Gospić County Court to the Rijeka County Court (upon a motion by the Gospić Court President, due to their inability to compose a Council, and having obtained the opinion from the State Attorney’s Office). The investigation was conducted at the Gospić County Court with regard to the defendants Željko Šuput, Milan Panić and Milorad Žigić but, during the investigation, the State Attorney’s Office abandoned a part of the investigation request pertaining to Milorad Žigić.

The defence filed an objection claiming that the Council’s composition was not in accordance with the Act on Application of the International Criminal Court Statute and Prosecution of Criminal Acts against the International Law on War and the Humanitarian Law, since members of the Council were judges from the civil department. Council President announced that the Council’s composition was in accordance with the Law (see: Observations).

The defendants pleaded not guilty, they presented their defence at the end of the evidence procedure.

During the evidence procedure, a total of 24 witnesses were heard (Perica Bičanić, Aldo Ivančić, Ranko Luketić, Marijan Luketić, Ivica Luketić, Mirko Luketić, Marko Luketić, Milan Pavlić, Jure Smolčić, Živko Matovina, Mile Lukač, Dražen Rendulić, Darko Holjevac, Ante Pleš, Jure Matovina, Milorad Žigić, Milan Mrle, Nikša Karamatić, Vojin Vukadinović, Mate Rendulić, Nikola Nikolić, Damir Mikec, Nikola Žigić and Jovica Žakula).

Witness testimonies by Nikola Perković and Dana Perković were read.

The permanent court expert Renata Dobi-Babić testified on the time when the victims sustained their injuries.

During the trial, 6 scheduled court hearings were postponed.

The procedure was prolonged both by defence counsels and by the defendants, thus it had to start anew because of a delay that lasted for more than two months. At the first court hearing, defence counsels cancelled the power of attorney deeming that the defendants’ rights were violated and that they were prevented from defence because all of their motions were rejected, thus the trial was postponed in order to provide the defendants with court-appointed defence counsels. The defendants had to receive court-appointed defence counsels, however the selected lawyer Miloš Markiš continued to defend Željko Šuput. Due to the aforementioned defence counsel’s illness, at the hearing held on 30 June 2008 the defendant Šuput was informed about his right to select a defence counsel despite the fact that a court-appointed defence counsel also represented him.
VERDICT

On 3 October 2008, the verdict was pronounced by which the defendants were found guilty. The defendant Šuput was sentenced to 4 years in prison, while the defendant Panić was sentenced to 3 years and 6 months in prison.

Following the publication of the verdict, the defendants were released from detention, but measures of caution were applied against them: they were prohibited from leaving their residence with the obligation to report to the police station and their travelling documents were seized.

The defendants had spent 1 year and 10 months in prison.

The VSRH held its session on 8 June 2011. The monitoring report on this session can be read in Croatian here and decision here

On 12 June 2012, the Rijeka County Court’s War Crimes Council pronounced the verdict in which the defendants were found guilty. Same as in the first-instance proceedings, they were sentenced to the following prison terms: Šuput (4 years) and Panić (3 years and 6 months).

OPINION OF THE MONITORING TEAM FOLLOWING THE CONCLUDED FIRST INSTANCE PROCEDURE

The Rijeka County Court, as the court of first instance, found Željko Šuput guilty and sentenced him to 4 years in prison, while Milan Panić was sentenced to 3 years and 6 months.

Following the publication of the verdict, the defendants were released from detention since there are no particularly serious circumstances of the act due to which detention was ordered and extended, however, measures of caution were applied against them: prohibition to leave their place of residence with the obligation to report to Korenica Police Station and seizure of passports, which measures may last until the verdict has become legally valid, at the latest.

The defendants spent a total of 1 year and 10 months in detention.

The defendants were charged that from 15 October 1991 until the end of April 1992 at the Korenica militia building, together with several other militia members of the so-called SAO Krajina, on several occasions dragged war prisoners Nikola Nikolić, Milo Lukač and Perica Bičanić outside their cells into the building hall or the building yard and then hit them with fists and legs wearing military boots, forced them to work, insulted them and threatened them, whereby they committed a war crime against the values protected by the international law – a war crime against war prisoners referred to in Article 122 of the OKZRH.

The investigation was conducted at the Gospić County Court with regard to the defendants Željko Šuput, Milan Panić and Milorad Žigić but, during the investigation, the State Attorney’s Office abandoned a part of the investigation request pertaining to Milorad Žigić.

The Supreme Court of the RoC transferred jurisdiction in this particular case from the Gospić County Court to the Rijeka County Court upon a motion by the Gospić Court President due to their inability to compose a Council.

The objection filed by the defence that the Council’s composition was not in accordance with the Act on Application of the International Criminal Court Statute and Prosecution of Criminal Acts against the International Law on War and the Humanitarian Law, since members of the Council were judges from the civil department, was not approved. Namely, the aforementioned Act stipulates in Article 13, paragraph 2, that a War Crime Council comprises: “three judges from the ranks of judges distinguished by their experience in working with the most complex cases”. Since the Act failed to specifically stipulate which are the most complex cases, we would like to warn about this “weakness” of the aforementioned Act.

We deem that members of the War Crime Council must be judges from the criminal department distinguished by their experience in working with criminal cases (due to the seriousness of the criminal act and their familiarity with criminal law matters), and not judges from the civil department[1].

We deem that the Rijeka County Court, as one of the special courts[2] trying war crimes, should appoint judges with experience in criminal cases to the Council, otherwise what is the purpose of transferring cases from other courts to that particular court?

At the first court hearing, defence counsels cancelled the power of attorney deeming that the defendants’ rights were violated. We do not see the effect lawyers expected to achieve by their protest manifested in canceling the power of attorney. Such procedure is not in accordance with the defence counsels’ Code of Ethics, since defence counsels must not refuse to provide legal protection to a party, because the defendant’s position would deteriorate.

One should note that, upon the completion of each court hearing, parties and participants in the proceedings did not receive a copy of the trial minutes, which is contrary to the practice of other county courts in the Republic of Croatia. Pursuant to the provision of Article 314 of the ZKP, the trial minutes must be finished upon the conclusion of the session and parties are entitled to inspect the minutes, file an objection with regard to the contents of the minutes or request a correction. The minutes were forwarded to defence counsels and the State Attorney’s Office only upon the expiry of a minimum of two weeks after the completion of the hearing, despite the fact that defence counsels requested to receive the court minutes immediately after the completion of the hearing.

You can see the summary of the proceedings here. (in Croatian)


[1] The Panel of the Supreme Court of the RoC (ruling No. II 4 Kr 11/09-3 of 3 February 2009) deems that a war crime council should comprise exclusively judges with experience in working with criminal cases, thus it upheld the motion for transfer of local jurisdiction away from the Virovitica County Court because that court was not able to comprise a trial council that would consist of three judges from the Criminal Department.

[2] The Act on Application of the International Criminal Court Statute and Prosecution of Criminal Acts against the International Law on War and the Humanitarian Law (Official Gazette 175/03) stipulates in Article 12, paragraph 1 that County Courts in Osijek, Rijeka, Split and Zagreb shall have local jurisdiction to conduct criminal proceedings for criminal acts referred to in Article 1 of this Act, apart from the courts which have local jurisdiction pursuant to general regulations.

Crime in Novo Selište

On 1 December 2010, the VSRH rendered a decision that the defendant Stojan Letica would be tried in his absence.

INDICTMENT (SUMMARY)

The charges against Stojan Letica accuse him that on 30 November 1991 at approximately 19.00 hours in Novo Selište as a member of non-regular army of the so-called SAO Krajina, when on patrol, aware of the fact that Stjepan Šubić, a civilian person of Croatian nationality, was alone in his house, fired several shots from the “M-70” rifle through the open window in the back of Stjepan Šubić, who instantly died from sustained injuries, and therefore he committed a criminal act of a war crime against civilians under Article 120, paragraph 1 of the OKZRH.

You can read the Indictment here. (in Croatian)
GENERAL INFORMATION

Sisak County Court

Case file number: K-43/08

Council: judge Melita Avedić, Council President, judges Željko Mlinarić and Ljubica Rendulić Holzer, Council Members

Indictment: No. K-DO-44/06 of 26 November 2008 issued by the Sisak County State Attorney’s Office.

Prosecution: Sonja Rapić, Sisak County Deputy State’s Attorney

Criminal act: a war crime against civilians, Article 120 paragraph 1 of the OKZRH

Defendant: Stojan Letica, member of the so-called “SAO Krajina” army, not present at the trial

Defence: Antonio Kaleb, a lawyer practicing in Sisak

Victim: Stjepan Šubić – a civilian, killed

MONITORING REPORTS

NOVO SELIŠTE izvještaji sa suđenja – available in Croatian

Crime in Frkašić II

On 25 February 2010, the War Crimes Council of the Gospić County Court found the defendant Goran Zjačić guilty of the commission of war crime against war prisoners under Article 122 of the OKZ RH and sentenced him to 7 years in prison.

The VSRH, at the session of its Council scheduled for 11 May 2011 quashed for procedural errors the first instance verdict rendered by the Gospić County Court.

After the repeated trial, on 8 September 2011 the War Crimes Council of the Karlovac County Court (Office in Gospić) found the defendant guilty and sentenced him to 7 years in prison.

INDICTMENT (SUMMARY)

The defendant is charged that, from the beginning of May 1994 until 5 August 1995, as a member of the Military Police company with the 15th Corps of the so-called RSK Army (the Republic of Srpska Krajina), in the prison designated for war prisoners which was located in the primary school building in Frkašić, where war prisoners, members of the HV, the HVO and the BiH Army were detained, on those days when he was on guard, violating the rules of the international law he tortured war prisoners and treated them inhumanely and caused them great suffering and injuries against their physical integrity and health,
whereby he committed a war crime against war prisoners referred to in Article 122 of the OKZ RH.

You can see the indictment issued by the Gospić County State’s Attorney’s Office No. K-DO-13/08 of 9 March 2009 here (PDF, 362 KB). (in Croatian)
GENERAL DATA

Gospić County Court

Case file number: K-11/09

War Crime Council: Judge Dušan Šporčić, Council President; Judge Dubravka Rudelić, Council member; Judge Matilda Rukavina, Council member

Indictment: issued by the Gospić County State’s Attorney’s Office No. K-DO-13/08 of 9 March 2009

Prosecution: Željko Brkljačić, Gospić County Deputy State’s Attorney

Criminal act: war crime against prisoners of war – Article 122 of the OKZ RH

Defendant: Goran Zjačić, has been detained in the Gospić Prison since 28 September 2008

Defence counsel: Ljubiša Drageljević, a lawyer practising in Rijeka

Victims:
– physically abused: Johannes Tilder, Ivan Čaić, Ivan Dadić (members of the HV); Marko Tomić (member of the HVO); Kadir Bećirspahić (member of the BiH Army)
MONITORING REPORTS

The main hearing commenced on 3 June 2009.
We did not monitor the first two trial hearings. Reports from those hearings were written on the basis of the minutes from the trial.

Zjacic – monitoring reports (in Croatian)
VERDICT

On 25 February 2010, the War Crimes Council of the Gospić County Court found the defendant Goran Zjačić guilty of the commission of war crime against war prisoners under Article 122 of the OKZ RH and sentenced him to 7 years in prison.

His detention has been extended.

The VSRH, at the session of its Council scheduled for 11 May 2011 quashed for procedural errors the first instance verdict rendered by the Gospić County Court.

After the repeated trial, on 8 September 2011 the War Crimes Council of the Karlovac County Court (Office in Gospić) found the defendant guilty and sentenced him to 7 years in prison.

Crime in Bijela

On 11 October 2010, War Crimes Council of the Bjelovar County Court reached a verdict in the trial against Dragomir Ćasić: The Court acquitted the defendant of the charge because it was not proven in his case that he committed a war crime against civilians under Article 120, paragraph 1 of the OKZRH.
INDICTMENT (SUMMARY)

The Indictment No. KT-49/94 of 12 June 1997 was issued by the Bjelovar County State Attorney’s Office against 28 accused persons.

According to the Indictment, Dragomir Ćasić – the 19th defendant, is charged with a war crime against war prisoners: that he, in his capacity as member of paramilitary unit of the so called “Territorial Defence of Western Slavonia”, together with Žarković Krsto, Banjeglav Ljubomir, Šopalović Milan, Majić Nenad, Kulić Sreten, Zorić Miodrag, Pavković Vasilije, Kuridža Petar, Tomić Boro, Glumac Rajko and Romanić Milan, apprehended police members (Starešinić Zlatko, Petrovecki Darko, Rambousek Damir and Petrovečki Marijan) in Daruvar in the night of 18/19 August 1991. The defendants took the mentioned police members to the prison in the village of Bijela where they were tortured and abused, and after that transferred to the prison in Bučje where Petrovicki Darko, Rambousek Damir and Petrovečki Marijan disappeared without a trace and therefore presumed killed.

The Indictment can be viewed (in Croatian language) here.

According to the Indictment No. K-DO-29/10 issued by the Bjelovar County State Attorney’s Office on 06 August 2010, Dragomir Ćasić is charged that he, together with other mentioned persons, unlawfully took into custody the citizens of the Republic of Croatia Starešinić Zlatko, Petrovicki Darko, Rambousek Damir and Petrovečki Marijan, and took them to the Chetnik prison in Bijela where they were tortured and abused; several days later they were transferred to the central prison in Bučje where Petrovicki Darko, Rambousek Damir and Petrovečki Marijan disappeared without a trace and therefore are presumed killed. Thus, he committed a war crime against civilians.
GENERAL INFORMATION

Bjelovar County Court

Case file number: K-6/2010

War Crimes Council (panel): Sandra Hančić, President of the Council, Mladen Piškorec and Antonija Bagarić, Council members

Indictment: No. K-DO-29/10 issued by the Bjelovar County State Attorney’s Office on 6 August 2010

Representing the prosecution: Branka Merzić, Bjelovar County State Attorney

Criminal offence: war crime against civilians under Article 120, paragraph 1 of the OKZRH

Defendant: Dragomir Ćasić (arrested at the Bajakovo border crossing on 1 August 2010, in detention until the pronouncement of the first-instance verdict of acquittal on 11 October 2010)

Defence: Krešimir Papac and Krunoslav Kunštić, lawyers practicing in Koprivnica

Victims:

taken into a detention camp, tortured and abused, missing: Darko Petrovicki, Damir Rambousek and Marijan Petrovečki;

taken into a detention camp, tortured and abused: Zlatko Starešinić
TRIAL MONITORING REPORTS

BIJELA trial monitoring reports (available in Croatian language)
VERDICT

On 11 October 2010, War Crimes Council of the Bjelovar County Court reached a verdict in which the panel acquitted the defendant Dragomir Ćasić because it was not proven in his case that he committed the crime as charged.

Crime in Novska

A trial was conducted before the War Crime Council of the Sisak County Court against Branislav Mišćević and Željko Vrljanović, charged with a war crime against civilians, described and punishable pursuant to Article 120, paragraph 1 of the Basic Criminal Law of the Republic of Croatia (hereinafter: the OKZ RH). The public session of the Supreme Court of the RoC was held on 13 October 2009. The Supreme Court of the Republic of Croatia fully upheld the first instance verdict.
On 22 December 2010, the Appellate Panel of the Supreme Court held its session (in the third instance in respect of the defendant Mišćević). We are still not familiar with the decision.

 
INDICTMENT (SUMMARY)

The defendants are charged that on 19 March 1993 in Novska, as members of a sabotage group which was operating within the reconnaissance and sabotage squad of the 54th infantry brigade of the 18th corps of the Republic of Srpska Krajina Military, together with members of that group Ljubinko Bijelić and Dragan Knežević, wearing Croatian military (HV) uniforms and armed with automatic guns of the ”Scorpion” brand, from the temporarily occupied area of Novsko Brdo, walking down the forest path towards the town of Novska, in the area called ”Samar” in Alberta Knoppa Street, they entered the family house owned by the Grgić family where they killed Stjepan Grgić, deputy commander of the temporary unit of the Novska Homeguard Company, his wife Tomislava Grgić and their children Ivan Grgić and Anamarija Grgić. Having committed the murder, they searched the house and found the keys of a personal car of the ”Isuzu” brand and drove it away to the temporarily occupied area of Okučani,

therefore, by violating the rules of the international law during an armed conflict, they killed civilian population, whereby they committed a criminal act against humanity and international law – war crime against civilians – described and punishable pursuant to Article 120, paragraph 1 of the OKZRH.
GENERAL DATA

Sisak County Court

War Crime Council: Judge Snježana Mrkoci, Council President; Judge Predrag Jovanić, Council member, Judge Alenka Lešić, Council member

Prosecuting attorney: Marijan Zgurić, Sisak County Deputy State’s Attorney

Defence counsels:

for the 1st defendant, Luka Šušak, a lawyer practising in Zagreb
for the 2nd defendant, Zorko Kostanjšek, a lawyer practising in Sisak and Veljko Miljević, a lawyer practising in Zagreb

Victims: killed members of the Grgić family: Stjepan Grgić, Tomislava Grgić, Ivan Grgić, Anamarija Grgić
MONITORING REPORTS

NOVSKA monitoring reports (in Croatian)

VERDICT

On 24 October 2008 the verdict was published by which the 1st defendant Branislav Miščević was found guilty and sentenced to 20 years in prison.

The 2nd defendant Željko Vrljanović was acquitted of charges.

The public session of the Supreme Court of the RoC was held on 13 October 2009. You can see the report from the public session here. (in Croatian)
The Supreme Court of the Republic of Croatia fully upheld the first instance verdict.
You can see the verdict of the Supreme Court here (in Croatian).

On 22 December 2010, the Appellate Panel of the Supreme Court held its session (in the third instance in respect of the defendant Mišćević). We are still not familiar with the decision.

OPINION OF THE MONITORING TEAM AFTER THE FIRST INSTANCE PROCEEDINGS

The criminal proceedings for the killing of the Grgić family, the spouses and their two underage children, which was performed in the shape of execution from point blank, were initiated 13 years after the crime was committed.

The severity and brutality of the crime require the most stringent punishment for all perpetrators of that crime.

The Court Council had a demanding task of establishing the facts and passing a decision with regard to the fact that there were no direct eyewitnesses of the crime, one of the key witnesses denied the testimony provided during the investigation, while another witness clarified that he was not referring to the defendant Vrljanović during the investigation but to another person. The Court was informed that unknown persons had exposed this witness to threats.

Precisely because of that, when passing a verdict (both in the sentencing and in the acquitting section) on the basis of circumstantial evidence, the Court is obliged to clearly explain the established facts.

The Court Council established that the defendant Branislav Miščević, together with members of his group, including Ljubinko Bijelić “Tolobić” and Dragan Kovačević “Toša”, liquidated members of the Grgić family by firing gunshots in the back of their heads and stole their personal car, whereby they committed a war crime against civilians. The defendant Miščević was found guilty and sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Due to lack of evidence, Željko Vrljanović was acquitted of charges that he had committed the criminal act with which he was charged in the indictment.

In the course of the proceedings, the defence insisted on obtaining the case file in the criminal proceedings which were, according to the defence, conducted against Dean Milić in 1993 before the Zagreb Military Court for the same event for which the defendants Miščević and Vrljanović were tried in this procedure. However, having obtained the case file, which clearly did not pertain to the incriminating event, the Court did not accept the defence’s request for re-obtaining the case file.

If the Supreme Court of the RoC deems that the facts in this procedure were correctly established, we deem it necessary to process all perpetrators of the crime against the Grgić family, which will require cooperation with prosecution bodies of the Republic of Serbia.

Explanation

The criminal proceedings against Branislav Miščević and Željko Vrljanović were initiated 13 years after the commission of the crime with which they were charged in the indictment. The investigating request dated 31 March 2006 was directed against the following 7 (seven) persons: Jure Šajatović, Milenko Bajić, Živko Kragujević, Branislav Miščević, Ljubinko Bijelić, Dragan Knežević and Željko Vrljanović. The indictment was issued against Branislav Miščević and Željko Vrljanović who became available to the judicial bodies of the Republic of Croatia. Branislav Miščević, without citizenship, with refugee status in Serbia, was extradited to Croatia from Serbia, while Željko Vrljanović, citizen of the U.S.A., was arrested in Germany pursuant to the international warrant and extradited to Croatia.

The first instance court deems that, on the basis of presented evidence, it was established that Branislav Miščević took part in the liquidation of the 4-member Grgić family and that his actions contain all essential characteristics of the criminal act of war crime against civilians referred to in Article 120, paragraph 1 of the OKZ RH. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison (maximum prison sentence). Due to lack of evidence, Željko Vrljanović was acquitted of charges pursuant to Article 354, item 3 of the Criminal Procedure Act.

The Court, without interfering with the content of the indictment, intervened in the factual substratum made by the prosecuting attorney by way of aligning it with the established facts since, according to the court’s assessment, it was not established beyond reasonable doubt during the procedure that the subject criminal act was committed upon the order issued by Jure Šajatović, Milenko Bajić, Živko Kragujević and an unknown 1st class JNA (Yugoslav People’s Army) captain, thus the Court omitted these allegations from the actual description of the criminal act for which it found Branislav Miščević guilty.

Upon the Council’s decision, seven witnesses were directly heard during the evidence procedure, while the testimonies of six other witnesses were read. Public was excluded from the main hearing during the questioning of the witness Milan Mirolović for the purpose of protecting his personal and family life, in compliance with the provisions of the ZKP. The Department for Support to Victims and Witnesses in Criminal Proceedings and Proceedings for Criminal Acts of War Crime suggested to exclude the public. The Court was informed that unknown persons had exposed this witness to threats.

The Court based the sentencing part of the verdict on the testimonies of three witnesses – Dušan Grbić (provided during the investigation procedure, when directly questioned at the main hearing he denied the testimony provided during the investigation), Milan Mirolović and Milka Pavković.

From the testimonies of witnesses Dušan Grbić and Milan Mirolović, the Court established that, on the critical day, 19 March 1993, around 16:00 or 17:00 hours, pursuant to the orders received, these persons were securing the area near the village of Paklenica, whereby members of Branislav Miščević’s group turned left in the direction of Novska, Čedo Relić’s group went in the opposite direction while their group stayed on that same place. On that occasion, Miščević’s group was carrying short weapons, the so-called “scorpions”, and the witness Mirolović stated that they had silencers and Croatian Military uniforms. They heard that those persons, upon return, drove a personal car – a jeep that broke down on the way, so that Milan Pavković was pulling it by a tractor. Only on the third day they heard that the Grgić family had been killed.

Witness Dušan Grbić stated that “Tolobić”, Vrljanović, “Toša” and Vujkovac also went with Miščević in the direction of Novska. He said that “Tolobić” came after 24:00 hours from the direction of Novska wearing Croatian Military uniform and said that he needed a tractor. He attempted to reach Jure Šajatović by Motorola, but could not reach him, so he called Mišo Bajić and asked him to get Milan Pavković to come to the forest with a tractor. A day or two days later, he heard that Miščević, “Tolobić” and “Toša” were fixing a jeep. He heard that, apart from the jeep, they also seized money and Croatian Military uniforms, and that they needed a tractor because the car broke down on the way.

Witness Mirolović said that on the incriminating day around 16:00 hours Miščević was in the company of “Tolobić”, “Toša” and “Vrči”.

Witness Milka Pavković confirmed the allegations of the witness that during one evening in 1993 her husband Milan Pavković was called to come with his tractor to pull out some vehicle that got stuck. Jure Šajatović and Milenko Bajić came to pick him up that night wearing Croatian uniforms. Her husband told her that first he thought it was a vehicle that was stolen somewhere, and when he found out what they had done, he went to the command centre which was located in Rajići and told them everything, because of which his family had problems afterwards. Her husband also told her that he had learned from Marko Vladić, who passed away in the meantime, that a person with the nickname of “Toša”, for whom he thinks his name was Dragan Knežević, was a member of the group that killed members of the Grgić family.

Having sublimated the aforementioned testimonies, the Court established that it was precisely the defendant Branislav Miščević, with his reconnaissance and sabotage group which undoubtedly comprised Ljubinko Bijelić aka “Tolobić” and Dragan Knežević aka “Toša”, who committed the incriminating criminal act because, as the Court explained, on the incriminating occasion the defendant drove a jeep for which it is reasonable to assume that it belonged to the Grgić family, since it was driven on that critical night to the position of the “SAO Krajina” Military, and none of the witnesses confirmed the defendant’s defence that UNPROFOR gave them this vehicle at disposal, whereby witnesses state that there were rumours going around that this car was sold in Belgrade, while witness Slavomir Solomon stated that the deceased Stjepan Grgić had a jeep at that time.

From the minutes on the on-site investigation and photo elaborate, it ensues that the killing of the Grgić family was committed on 19 March 1993 in their house in Novska. The Court, having linked the undisputable date of the killing of members of the Grgić family with the event described by witnesses Grbić and Mirolović (they spoke about March 1993), obviously determined the exact date of commission of the criminal act. However, in the explanation of the verdict, the Court stated that “… from the testimonies of witnesses Dušan Grbić and Milan Mirolović who testified during the investigation and witness Mirolović who confirmed that testimony at the main hearing, that on the day in question, 19 March 1993 around 16:00 or 17:00 hours, they were tasked with ….”, although the aforementioned witnesses never spoke about the exact date when the event which they described took place.

The Court concluded that the defendant, when performing the criminal act, acted with premeditation, motivated by ethnic intolerance towards the citizens of Croatian ethnicity, which ultimately resulted in the killing of 4 civilians, including two children aged 14 and 5, on which occasion each victim, prior to liquidation, was forced to look how their closest family members were killed. The Court did not explain the grounds on which it passed the conclusion that the crime was motivated by ethnic intolerance.

By explaining the acquitting section of the verdict, the Court stated that the defendant Vrljanović defended himself by stating that, at the incriminating time, he was in Banja Luka, which was confirmed by his then-girlfriend and current wife Dragana Vrljanović and her sister Daliborka Potajac, and that prior to the critical event he was transferred to the mortar unit, which was confirmed by witnesses Dušan Sutara and Milorad Tešanović.

Witness Mirolović clarified at the main hearing that the person with the nickname “Vrči”, whom he mentioned in the investigation, was actually Željko Mostarac, and not Željko Vrljanović who has the nickname “Vrljo”. Witnesses Dušan Grbić, Dragana Vrljanović and Daliborka Potajac also stated that the defendant’s nickname was “Vrljo”.

The Court assessed the testimony of witness Nikola Polimac, who stated during the investigation that the defendant Vrljanović personally told him that, together with the defendant Miščević, he had participated in the liquidation, as non -convincing.

In the acquitting section of the verdict, the Court did not give value to the part of the testimony provided by witness Dušan Grbić who stated during the investigation that “Tolobić”, Vrljanović, “Toša” and Vujkovac went with Miščević in the direction of Novska.

The defence insisted on obtaining the case file from the Zagreb County Court in the criminal proceedings which were, according to the defence, conducted in 1993 before the Zagreb Military Court against Dean Milić, the-then member of the Croatian formations, for the same event for which Miščević and Vrljanović were indicted.

According to the defence, the Sisak County Court obtained a wrong case file from the Zagreb County Court, which has no connection with the subject criminal act. The defence counsels filed a motion to obtain the aforementioned case file on the basis of which it would be determined whether a sentencing verdict was passed before the-then Military Court against Dean Milić for the brutal killing of the Grgić family and whether charges against that person were soon afterwards dropped due to the General Amnesty Act, but the evidence motion was rejected as irrelevant.

Crime in the villages Selkovac and Šatornja


On 14 November 2008, the War Crimes Council of the Sisak County Court reached and announced a verdict wherein the charges of committing a war crime against civilians under Article 120, paragraph 1 of the OKZ RH were dropped against the defendant Mile Letica.

The indictment of the Sisak County State Attorney’s Office, No. K-DO-21/06, of 1 August 2008, was charging Siniša Martić, nicknamed «Šilt», and Mile Letica, with a war crime against civilians pursuant to Article 120, paragraph 1 of the OKZ RH.

Following the decision of the War Crimes Council, the criminal procedure against the defendant Mile Letica was separated from the criminal procedure against the defendant Siniša Martić, nicknamed «Šilt», who is fugitive from justice and has been unavailable to the Croatian judiciary.
INDICTMENT (SUMMARY)

The Indictment is available in Croatian language here (in Cratian).

The Indictment No. K-DO-21/06 issued by the Sisak County State Attorney’s Office on 1 August 2008, modified on 1 October 2008  and 14 November 2008 charges the defendant Mile Letica with the following crimes:

– on 18 September 1991, contrary to Articles 3, 13, 32, 33 and 53 of the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War adopted of 12 August 1949, and Article 4 paragraphs 1 and 2, Articles 13 and 16 of Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and relating to the Protection of Victims of Non-International Armed Conflicts (Protocol II), of 8 June 1977, while acting as the commander of the 2nd regiment of the Territorial Defence of Glina, ordered members of his unit to launch a heavy mortar and rifle fire attack on the positions of the Croatian military and police forces in Šatornja. This attack began including the positions of Croatian armed forces in the village and the civilian establishments. The defendant knew that the civilian population of Croatian ethnicity resided in the village and that the probability was great that such attack would cause destruction of houses and of farming facilities. Although the defendant had power and authority to prevent this attack, he took no action and thus by carrying out the mentioned attack he agreed to the consequences that because of such excessive and non-selective mortar attack all houses in the village of Šatornja were destroyed, and also

– from 29 September to 3 October 1991, following the orders from the Operational Group 1 commander, General Dušan Koturović, with the purpose to seize a larger Viduševac area and to reach the river Kupa, the defendant ordered members of his unit to launch a heavy mortar and rifle fire attack including an infantry attack on the positions of the Croatian military and police forces in Donji and Gornji Selkovac. This firing and attack was materialised affecting not only the positions of the Croatian armed forces in the mentioned villages but also the civilian establishments although the defendant was aware that civilian population of Croatian ethnicity resided there and that there was a great probability that such attack would cause unnecessary killing and escape of the civilians in directions of under-attack, and destruction of houses and of farming facilities.  Despite that, although the defendant had power and authority to prevent such attack, he took no action and thus by carrying out the mentioned attack he agreed to such consequences that as the result of such excessive and non-selective mortar attack and infantry attack on the area of Donji and Gornji Selkovac, a civilian Franjo Sučec was killed and all houses were destroyed and burned down;

and thus, breaching the principles of the international humanitarian law during an armed conflict, the defendant ordered an attack on settlements, which lead to the death of one civilian, and ordered an untargeted attack affecting the civilian population;

therefore he committed a crime against the humanity and the values protected by international humanitarian law – a war crime against civilians – described and punishable pursuant to Article 120, paragraph 1 of the OKZRH.
GENERAL INFORMATION

The Sisak County Court

Case file numbr: 32/08

War Crimes Council: Judge Snježana Mrkoci, Council President, judges Željko Mlinarić and Višnja Vukić, Council members

Indictment: K-DO-21/06, of 1 August 2008, modified at the main hearing of 1 October 2008 and of 14 November 2008

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

Criminal act: a war crime against civilians pursuant to Article 120, paragraph 1 of the OKZRH

Defendant: Mile Letica (was detained until 14 November 2008 when the verdict was announced)

Defence: lawyers Zorko Kostanjšek and Domagoj Rupčić

Victim: Franjo Sučec; the names Franjo Klobučar and Andrija Grgić were left out in the modified indictment of 14 November 2008
TRIAL MONITORING REPORTS

SELKOVAC AND SATORNJA monitoring reports in Croatian language

A total of five main hearing court sessions were held on 1, 2 and 3 October 2008 and on 13 and 14 November 2008.

The Sisak County State Attorney’s Office issued the indictment No. K-DO-21/06 of 1 August 2008 against the defendants Siniša Martić and Mile Letica.
At the first court session of the main hearing, the defence of the defendant Mile Letica proposed the criminal procedure against his client to be separated from the criminal procedure against the defendant Siniša Martić who was at large. The Sisak County Deputy State’s Attorney objected to this proposal. By way of a Decision, pursuant to the provisions of Article 30, paragraph 1 of the OKZRH, the Trial Council separated the criminal procedure against the defendant Mile Letica from the criminal procedure against the defendant Siniša Martić.

At the first court session of the main hearing (1 October 2008), the Sisak County Deputy State’s Attorney stated precisely the legal description of the criminal act referred to in Article 120, paragraph 1 of the OKZRH.

During the evidence procedure, personal and material evidence was presented.
The following witnesses were heard: Vlado Crnković, Zlatko Školneković, Kata Šantek, Milan Đukić, Petar Sužnjević, Mirko Lapčević, Marijan Pereković, Luka Sučec, Milan Drekić, Stjepan Radočaj, Slavko Strgar, Mirko Kruhović, Slavko Sučec, Vlado Gregorić, Veljko Milojević, Zoran Rula, Brako Djaković, Mate Kruhović and Nikola Čavić.
Testimonies were read of the following witnesses: Stevo Borića, Luka Šantek, Đurđa Leskovac, Srećko Ostojić, Luka Pereković, Đuro Turopoljac, Adam Lazić and Ilija Jandrić.
Also read was the documentation under the title „Personality: Commander“ of 29 September 1991; Bulletin No. 3 of 7 October 1991, of 11 November 1991 and Bulletin No. 5 of January 1992.

At the court-session for the main hearing, held on 14 November 2008, the Sisak County Deputy State’s Attorney modified the indictment.
The defendant pleaded not guilty for the criminal act charged by both the first indictment and the modified indictment. At the same hearing, the defendant presented his defence. The Sisak County Deputy State’s Attorney stated in his summing-up that it was evident from the course of the evidence procedure that the defendant committed a criminal act as was stipulated in the indictment, and therefore he proposed the Court to find him guilty and sentence him according to the law.
Defence lawyers of the defendant stated that no evidence was found during the evidence procedure that the defendant Mile Letica committed a criminal act as charged with the indictment. Lawyer Domagoj Rupčić referred to the provisions of Geneva Conventions and of the Additional Protocol to the Geneva Conventions in his summing-up. Defence lawyer Zorko Kostanjšek analysed the presented evidence and stated that exactly from the course of the evidence procedure it was evident that it was not proven that his client issued an order, that it was not proven how and when the damage was caused and that it was not proven that an excessive use of force had been ordered. Furthermore, he stated to be proven that Franjo Sučec died after the attack on Selkovac, because at the moment of the attack, when other population was no longer in the village, Franjo Sučec stayed alive in the village.
VERDICT

On 14 November 2008, the President of the War Crimes Council announced and clarified briefly the verdict wherein the indictable offences against the defendant Mile Letica were dropped.

Detention against the defendant was suspended and the Court ordered the defendant to be released from detention.

In a brief clarification, the President specified that in respect of the not-guilty verdict primary importance was given to the fact that the Council established that the commanding level allocated to the defendant was a lower commanding level when compared to the level which qualifies for the category of commanding responsibility as that laid down by law.

 

OPINION OF THE MONITORING TEAM

War Crimes Council of the Sisak County Court reached a verdict No. K-32/08, of 14 November 2008 which acquitted the defendant Mile Letica from the charges pursuant to the provisions of Article 354, item 3 of the Criminal Procedure Act, for failing to prove that the defendant committed the criminal act he was charged with.

The trial was open for the public. The Council rejected a proposal by the defence counsel to have the trial closed for the public for the purpose of protecting the defendant’s personal and family life.

Passing the not-guilty verdict, the Court established that the defendant Mile Letica, at the critical period, was in a paramilitary unit and was a commander of the 2nd regiment of the Territorial Defence of Glina and that an attack was carried out on the villages of Šatornja and Gornji and Donji Selkovac by the paramilitary units supported by the JNA forces at the critical period. However, it was established in the quoted verdict that the Court did not undoubtedly establish that the defendant Mile Letica was the one who was responsible for the attack on the mentioned villages, i.e. that acting as a commander of the 2nd regiment of the Territorial Defence of Glina he ordered those attacks. The Court could not determine whether the defendant with his regiment performed combat actions that would lead to destruction and burning-down of the houses and farming facilities in Gornji and Donji Selkovac and that would lead to a death of a civilian Franjo Sučec.

When reaching the not-guilty verdict: „the assessment of this Court is that in this specific case there was even no evidence found that the commanding level held by the 2nd defendant Mile Letica as the commander of the 2nd regiment of the Territorial Defence of Glina was on such a high level which would have powers and authorities to initiate all military forces that participated in the attack on those villages or to prevent the same in destruction of facilities and killing of civilians upon the entering of the mentioned villages“.

Crime in Korlat

The second repeated trial against the defendants Stevo Macakanja et al. for a war crime against civilians was concluded before the changed composition of the War Crimes Council of the Zadar County Court.

Due to erroneously and incompletely established facts, the Supreme Court of the Republic of Croatia in a Ruling No. I-Kz-565/00 dated 19 December 2002, quashed the verdict of the Zadar County Court No. K-39/95 of 23 June 2000 and reversed the case to the Zadar County Court for a re-trial. The trial is conducted in the defendants’ absence.
INDICTMENT (SUMMARY)

The indictment issued by the Zadar County State’s Attorney’s Office (hereinafter: the ŽDO), No. KT-78/92 of 1 August 1995 charged the defendants, Stevo Macakanja, Željko Ležaja, Branko Kužet and Željko Cupać, that on 5 June 1992 in Korlat, at the temporarily occupied territory of the RoC, as members of paramilitary formations, during the armed conflict between rebel Serbs’ formations and armed forces of the RoC, together with five other unidentified unknown persons, decided to kill and abuse and killed civilian Milan Bulić.

Indictment.doc (in Croatian)
GENERAL DATA

The second repeated trial against the defendants Stevo Macakanja et al. for a war crime against civilians commenced before the War Crimes Council of the Zadar County Court on 30 March 2006.

Zadar County Court

Indictment No.: KT-78/92, of 1 August 1995, represented by the Zadar ŽDO

Number of the quashing ruling of the Supreme Court of the RoC: I Kž-565/00 of 19 December 2002, I Kž-682/03, of 29 September 2005

War Crimes Council: Judge Enka Moković, Council President; Judge Vladimir Mikolčević, Council member and Judge Boris Babić, Council member

Prosecuting attorney: Slobodan Denon, Deputy Zadar County State’s Attorney

Criminal act: war crime against civilians

Defendants: Stevo Macakanja, Željko Ležaja, Branko Kužet and Željko Cupać

Defence counsels:
lawyer Ante Ivković – defence counsel of the defendant Stevo Macakanja, lawyer Ante Krajina – defence counsel of the defendant Željko Ležaja, lawyer Ivica Ivanić – defence counsel of the defendant Branko Kužet, lawyer Goran Nižić – defence counsel of the defendant Željko Cupać, all lawyers practising in Zadar

Victims: – killed Milan Bulić.
MONITORING REPORTS
We monitored the process only occasionally. You can find the overview of the second repeated trial in the attached document.

VERDICT

On 4 October 2006, the President of the War Crimes Council, Judge Enka Moković, pronounced the verdict No. K-70/05, which found the defendant Stevo Macakanja and the defendant Željko Ležaja guilty as charged.

  • Stevo Macakanja was sentenced to 20 years in prison.
  • Željko Ležaja was sentenced to 5 years in prison.
  • The defendants Branko Kužet and Željko Cupać were acquitted of charges.

FINAL OPINION OF THE MONITORING TEAM

The War Crimes Council of the Zadar County Court in a changed composition conducted the second repeated criminal procedure against the defendants Stevo Macakanja, Željko Ležaja, Branko Kužet and Željko Cupać in a correct manner. The Council established that, out of the presented evidence and the established facts, it was not possible to conclude beyond any reasonable doubt that Branko Kužet and Željko Cupać were co-perpetrators of the criminal act referred to in Article 120, paragraph 1 of the OKZ RH or that they gave support to the 1st and the 2nd defendant and encouraged them in their actions towards the civilian Milan Bulić, as stated in the indictment.

It remains unclear due to which reasons the previous Council, in the first repeated procedure, failed to act according to the instructions provided by the Supreme Court of the RoC, as a result of which the procedure was unnecessarily delayed because the second repeated procedure had to be conducted, as well.

Crime in Slunjska Selnica (defendant Miroslav Bijelić et. al)

The main hearing began on 29 April 2010 at the Karlovac County Court in the repeated trial against the defendants Miroslav Bijelić, Savo Padežanin, Đuro Tepšić and Rade Bjeloš, indicted for the commission of a war crime against civilians.
By the verdict issued by the War Crime Council of the Karlovac County Court on 29 June 2010, the defendants Bijelić, Padežanin and Tepšić were found guilty and sentenced to 10 years of imprisonment each. The defendant Bjeloš was acquitted of all charges.

INDICTMENT (SUMMARY)

The Indictment No. KT – 6/96 of the Karlovac ŽDO issued on 29 February 1996 charges the 2nd defendant Miroslav Bijelić, the 3rd defendant Savo Padežanin, the 4th defendant Đuro Tepšić and the 5th defendant Rade Bjeloš that on 15 May 1992 in Slunjska Selnica, as members of a paramilitary unit of the then “SAO Krajina” and executing orders issued by their immediate commander Rade Peleša, killed Josip Obranović and thereby committed a war crime against civilians.
GENERAL INFORMATION

Karlovac County Court

Case file number: K-1/04

War Crimes Council: judge Ante Ujević, Council President; judges Jasminka Jerinić Mušnjak and Marijan Janjac, Council Members

Indictment: No. KT-6/96 of 29 February 1996 issued by the Karlovac County State Attorney’s Office (hereinafter. ŽDO)

Prosecution: Zdravko Car, the Karlovac County Deputy State’s Attorney

Criminal act: war crime against civilians under Article 120, paragraph 1 of the Basic Criminal Law of the Republic of Croatia (hereinafter: OKZRH)

Defendants: Miroslav Bijelić, Savo Padežanin, Đuro Tepšić and Rade Bjeloš – tried in absentia

Defence: lawyers Stanislav Rožman (for the defendant Bijelić); Hrvoje Rožman (for the defendant Padežanin); Davor Bartolac (for the defendant Tepšić); Sanda Kličarić (for the defendant Bjeloš)

Victim – killed: Josip Obranović
PREVIOUS CASE HISTORY

The original (1996) trial was conducted against five defendants comprising four aforementioned defendants and the 1st defendant Rade Peleša. Only the 1st defendant was present in that trial. As regards the other four defendants, the trial was conducted in their absence. On 27 November l996, all five defendants were found guilty and sentenced to 10 years in prison each.

In March 1998, the Supreme Court of the Republic of Croatia quashed the first instance verdict. It reasoned it with the fact that a substantive violation of the criminal procedure provisions occurred during the first instance trial – the first instance court, in one of its main hearing sessions, conducted the questioning of witnesses in absence of the defence counsel representing the 2nd to 4th defendants.

The repeated criminal proceedings was conducted only against the defendant Rade Peleša who was present in the trial (i.e. available to the Croatian judiciary). On l6 March l999, he was found guilty and sentenced to 12 years in prison. The Supreme Court later altered the first instance verdict in the sentencing section and thereby it sentenced the defendant Peleša to 10 years in prison. Meanwhile, he completed serving his prison sentence.
TRIAL MONITORING REPORTS

SLUNJSKA SELNICA izvjestaji s rasprave – trial monitoring courts, available in Croatian

 
VERDICT

By the verdict issued by the War Crime Council of the Karlovac County Court on 29 June 2010, the defendants Bijelić, Padežanin and Tepšić were found guilty and sentenced to 10 years of imprisonment each. The defendant Bjeloš was acquitted of all charges.

Crime in Petrinja (defendant Borislav Mikelić)

Reopened trial against Borislav Mikelić, previously sentenced in his absence to 20 years in prison. INDICTMENT (SUMMARY) The indictment no. K-DO-45/12 issued by the Zagreb ŽDO charges Borislav Mikelić with a war crime against civilians that he committed in his capacity as originator of the revival of the SANU memorandum of Greater Serbia [Memorandum of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts] in SAO Krajina at the Ćavić hill where he formed the so-called Chetnik Formation Headquarters and then he prepared and coordinated armed rebellion actions, issued the order to carry out attack on the town of Petrinja and other places, ordered attack on the ZNG and MUP members and other non-Serb civilian population, their expulsion, plundering movables, destruction of housing units, farming and sacral facilities, ordered illegal arrests of Croatian ethnicity members, who were taken later on to the “Vasilije Gaćeša” military barracks where they were physically and mentally abused. During the mentioned attacks Bučar Štef was killed and Drakulić Nikola, Banadinović Anđelina, Đurač Rajko, Herelić Ramiz, Vujatović Đuro and Bunjan Ivo were injured; the following buildings were destroyed in Petrinja: Petrinja Municipality Court, St. Catherine Church and St. Lovro Church. Therefore, he committed a war crime against civilians referred to in Article 120 of the OKZRH. GENERAL INFORMATION Zagreb County Court Case file number: K-rz-7/2011 Council: judge Željko Horvatović, Council President, judges Ratko Šćekić and Zdravko Majerović, Council Members Indictment: no. K-DO-45/12 issued by the Zagreb ŽDO, taken over from the Sisak ŽDO/ Sisak District Public Prosecution (no. KT-9/93 issued on 10 March 1993). Prosecution: Criminal offence: war crime against civilians under Article 120, paragraph 1 of the OKZRH Defendant: Borislav Mikelić, unavailable Defence: Silvije Degen, lawyer practicing in Zagreb Victims: – killed: Štef Bučar – sustained physical injuries: Nikola Drakulić, Anđelina Banadinović, Rajko Đurač, Ramiz Herelić, Đuro Vujatović and Ivo Bunjan On the basis of the judgment no. K-13/93 of 9 June 1993 rendered by the Sisak District Court, the following persons were found guilty: 1st defendant Borislav Mikelić, 2nd defendant Dušan Jović, 3rd defendant Milan Muidža, 4th defendant Dušan Kačar, 5th defendant Ilija Nišević, 6th defendant Milan Milanković, 7th defendant Ilija Belajac, 8th defendant Simo Karaica and 9th defendant Stanko Divjakinja for committing war crime against civilians and were sentenced to 20 years in prison each. All defendants were sentenced in absentia. They were all represented by one defence counsel. According to the statements contained in the judgment, he established that the presented evidence was leading to a conclusion that the defendants were the ones who committed criminal offences as charged. The mentioned judgment with its explanation did not contain sufficient information on the evidence and the reasons of determining the guilt. The judgment can be viewed here in Croatian language. The conviction against Dušan Jović, Milan Muidža, Dušan Kačar, Ilija Nišević, Milan Milanković, Ilija Belajac, Simo Karaica and Stanko Divjakinja is annulled after the trial was reopened on the basis of the Sisak ŽDO’s request and the legal qualification was changed into armed rebellion. Therefore, by applying the General Amnesty Act against the mentioned persons, criminal proceedings against them were discontinued. Decision on discontinuation of the proceedings can be viewed in Croatian language here. The Sisak County Court issued a decision no. Kv-147/10 on 26 April 2011 in which it accepted the request by convicted Borislav Mikelić and it permitted, in respect of him, reopening of the trial which was concluded with a final and legally binding judgement no. K-13/93 issued by the District Court in Sisak on 9 June 1993. TRIAL MONITORING REPORTS PETRINJA (OKR. BORISLAV MIKELIC) reopened trial monitoring reports (available in Croatian)   Since the prosecution dropped charges against Borislav Mikelić, criminal proceedings against him were discontinued at the end of May 2012 .