Ongoing trials

Crime in Petrovci

Trial against Željko Vujić for a war crime against civilians as described and punishable under Article 120 of the Basic Criminal Law Act of the Republic of Croatia (OKZRH).
INDICTMENT (SUMMARY)

On 4 September 2007, the Vukovar County State Attorney’s Office (hereinafter: ŽDO) issued the indictment against the following defendants: Nikola Radojčić (absent), Miroslav Ivan (absent), Vojislav Buzaković (absent), Milenko Đurđević (absent), Predrag Stojčević (absent), Dragan Žakula (absent), Željko Vujić (present), Duško Samardžić (absent) and Željko Ćirković (absent).

The Vukovar ŽDO’s indictment No. K-DO-15/05 of 4 September 2007 can be viewed (in Croatian) here.

On 9 June 2011, the Vukovar County Court’s extra-trial chamber separated the proceedings in respect of defendant Željko Vujić who is charged that in the period from October 1991 until the end of February 1992, in his capacity as police member, he was unlawfully apprehending, detaining, interrogating, beating, threatening and abusing in other ways the civilians in Petrovci in the premises of the so-called Police of the Serb Autonomous Area (SAO) of Krajina and also in the local community centre called Društveni Dom; and thus he committed a war crime against civilians under Article 120 of the OKZRH.

The Vukovar ŽDO’s indictment No. K-DO-15/05 of 11 July 2011 can be viewed (in Croatian) here.


GENERAL INFORMATION

Vukovar County Court

Case file number: K-26/11

War Crimes Council:judge Nikola Bešenski, President of the Council; judges Slavko Teofilović and Željko Marin, Council Members

Indictment: issued by the Vukovar ŽDO, No. K-DO-15/05 of 4 September 2007, amended in respect of defendant Vujić on 11 July 2011 after separation of the proceedings

Prosecution: Vlatko Miljković, Vukovar County Deputy State Attorney

Criminal offence: war crime against civilians, Article 120, paragraph 1 of the OK ZRH

Defendant: Željko Vujić

Defence: Borislav Miodragović, a lawyer practising in Vukovar

Victims – physically tortured: Irinej Nađorđ, Željko Varga, Jaroslav Pap, Marijan Pap, Nikola Pap and Miroslav Pavlović
TRIAL MONITORING REPORTS

PETROVCI izvještaji s praćenja suđenja (in Croatian)

Crime by the so-called Peruča Group

The Supreme Court of the RoC quashed the verdict of the Split County Court dated 9 June 2008 which, in the re-opened procedure against the defendant Mitar Arambašić, upheld the previous (legally valid) verdict in which the defendant was sentenced in 1997 in absentia to 20 years in prison for a war crime against civilians and a war crime against war prisoners.

The U.S.A. extradited Arambašić to Croatia in January 2006. He was arrested in South Dakota in 2002 on the basis of an international arrest warrant.
INDICTMENT (SUMMARY)

The defendant Mitar Arambašić and 38 other defendants were charged with committing a criminal act against the values protected by the international law – war crime against civilians referred to in Article120, paragraph 1 of the Basic Criminal Law of the RoC (hereinafter: the OKZ RH), while Rajko Radulović, Borko Radović, Željko Dragić, Milan Arambašić, Petar Krunić, Dragan Dragić, Stevan Četnik, Petar Arambašić, Dušan Stojsavljević, Mitar Arambašić, Dragan Arambašić, Milenko Ustić, Dragan Barišić and Dragan Petrović were also charged with committing a war crime against war prisoners referred to in Article 122 of the OKZ RH.

The defendants were charged that in the period between 11 March 1991 and 4 August 1995, with the intention of expelling citizens of non-Serb ethnicity from several villages in Vrlika area according to a beforehand prepared plan, contrary to the provisions of the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, they non-selectively shelled Croatian villages where there were no military bases and thus forced civilians to abandon their homes; they expelled people, intimidated and abused civilian population, looted their property, demolished and set on fire houses owned by Croats, tortured and killed war prisoners.

The defendant Mitar Arambašić was specifically charged with participation in setting up barricades on Vrlika roads; in the mining of Vrlika water-supply facility and telephone and electricity lines, whereby regular supply of civilian population with drinking water, electricity and telephone lines was cut off; he also participated in non-selective shelling of the following villages: Maljkovo, Potravlje, Satrić, Peruča, Hrvaci, the Peruča Hydroelectric Power Plant dam, Bitelić, Donji Jukići, Buljani, Rumin and Sinj, on which occasion the following persons were killed: Pavo Glavinić, Mara Vardić, Luča Cvitković, Jozo Budić, Petar Kudrić, Ivan Vidosavljević, Iva Mihaljević, Blaž Cvitković, Mara Cvitković, Iva Cvitković (the wife of Blaž), Ivan Knezović, Milica Jukić, Iva Jukić, Ana Jukić, Marijan Bešlić and Filip Bešlić; a total of 629 civilian facilities were demolished, while 1,468 were heavily damaged. The defendant was also charged with looting and setting on fire abandoned houses in occupied villages; the mining of the Peruča Hydroelectric Power Plant; torture and killing of the following war prisoners: Ivica Grubač, Bogoslav Lukić and Kažimir Abramović.
GENERAL DATA

Split County Court

Case number: K-56/06

War Crime Council: Judge Spomenka Tonković, Council President; Judge Damir Primorac, D.Sc., Council member; Judge Bruno Klein, Council member

Indictment: legally valid verdict of the Split County Court, No. K-15/95 dated 26 May 1997, upheld by the verdict of the Supreme Court of the RoC No. Ikž-497/97 dated 1 June 2000 (indictment KT-121/95), an excerpt thereof filed under number K-DO-50/06

Prosecution: Michele Squiccimaro, Split County Deputy State’s Attorney

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

The defendant: Mitar Arambašić

Defence counsels: Jadran Franceschi, a lawyer practising in Split and Radovan Đujić, a lawyer practising in Knin, selected defence counsels of the defendant

Injured parties’ attorneys-in-fact: none

Victims:
– killed civilians: Luca Cvitković, Jozo Budić, Ivan Vidosavljavić, Pava Glavinić, Mara Vardić, Petar Kudrić, Iva Cvitković, Iva Mihaljević, Blaž Cvitković, Mara Cvitković, Iva Cvitković (žena Blaža), Ivan Knezović, Milica Jukić, Iva Jukić, Ana Jukić, Marijan Bešlić and Filip Bešlić.

– killed war prisoners: Ivica Grubač, Bogoslav Lukić and Kažimir Abramović.
TRIAL MONITORING REPORT

The main hearing commenced on 22 March 2007. A total of 11 court hearings were held.

A total of 21 witnesses were heard on 29, 30 and 31 January 2008 via video-link at the Belgrade District Court: Marko Rnić, Slobodan Despinić, Rade Ustić, Petar Stojić, Nebojša Grajić, Dušan Arambašić, Petar Borković, Jagoda Dragić, Slobodan Zagorac, Dušan Borković, Đuro Toljagić, Dušan Rađen, Jovan Bilić, Zoran Petrović, Srećko Dragić, Drago Dragić, Slavenko Krunić, Đuro Vujasin, Milenko Ustić, Gojko Arambašić and Dragan Dragić.

During the evidence procedure, a total of five (5) witnesses were heard: Ankica Grubač, Stana Abramović, Petar Abramović, Marko Cvitković and Milan Stojsavljević.

The defendant pleaded not guilty and presented his defence at the end of the evidence procedure.
OPINION OF THE MONITORING TEAM

Representatives of the Centre for Peace, Non-violence and Human Rights – Osijek attended only some of the court hearings, therefore we are not able to provide opinion on the course of the entire procedure. The observations we are stating below in the text pertain to understanding of court practise related to re-opening of procedures in cases of in absentia trials.

When a defendant is sentenced in absentia, and the conditions have been created to try him in his presence, the Court will permit re-opening of the procedure and, at the same time, decide on forwarding the indictment to the defendant so that he could get acquainted with it, but not for the purpose of lodging a complaint because the complaint could have been lodged by the defence counsel upon receiving the indictment. The previously adopted verdict latently exists until a new verdict has been passed, which is why in the re-opened procedure the indictment is no longer subject to examination because, as such, it already became legally valid in the previous procedure. The defendant receives such an indictment exclusively to get acquainted with the criminal act with which he is charged and to prepare his defence.

The reason for stipulating the provision of Article 429 of the Criminal Procedure Act (hereinafter: the ZKP) as an exception, pursuant to which the defendant who was tried in absentia does not have to prove the existence of any of the legal bases referred to in Article 392 of the ZKP, is this: to render it possible to the convict to subsequently influence the result of establishing the facts which he was previously denied during the trial conducted in absentia. However, this also means that, if the convict, during the re-opened procedure, by way of amending his previous defence, as well as by his own initiative in the sense of amending the results of the evidence procedure, fails to bring into doubt the validly established facts in the previous procedure, the permitted repeating of the process must not lead to the change of the previous verdict, i.e. to its annulment (partially or entirely). When the defendant in the new procedure, conducted pursuant to a decision which permits re-opening of the criminal procedure, fails with his request to annul the previous verdict, either partially or entirely, the Court in that procedure is not authorised to alter the previous legally valid verdict in the decision on sentence, but such verdict must remain legally valid because, otherwise, the principle of legal validity would be violated.
THE VERDICT

On 9 June 2008, the War Crimes Council of the Split County Court pronounced a verdict No. K-56/06 by which, pursuant to Article 411, paragraph 3 of the Criminal Procedure Act it fully confirmed the verdict issued by the Split County Court No. K-15/95 of 26 May 1997, upheld by the verdict of the Supreme Court of the RoC No. Ikž-497/97 of 1 June 2000, by which verdict the defendant Mitar Arambašić was sentenced to a joint prison sentence in the duration of 20 (twenty) years due to a war crime against civilians referred to in Article 120, paragraph 1 of the OKZ RH and a war crime against war prisoners referred to in Article 122 of the OKZ RH.

Detention against the defendant Mitar Arambašić was extended, and the time he had spent in the extradition detention from 5 September 2002 until 25 January 2006, the time he had spent serving the sentence from 26 January 2006 until 17 May 2006, as well as the time he had spent in detention from 18 May 2006 onwards was calculated into the pronounced sentence.

The Supreme Court of the RoC, at the public session held on 28 April 2009, quashed the verdict by the Split County Court and reversed the case for a re-trial.

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

Crime in Vukovje, Koreničani and Dobra Kuća

The criminal procedure is currently conducted at the Bjelovar County Court against Vlado Gatarić, charged with 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 defendant was acquitted of charges in 1995, but in 1996 the Supreme Court of the Republic of Croatia quashed the first instance verdict of the Bjelovar County Court and reversed the case for a re-trial.
INDICTMENT

The indictment No. KT-178/95 of 31 June 1995 pressed charges against Ljuban Amidžić and 34 other defendants (including the 7th defendant Vlado Gatarić).
After the procedure in relation to Vlado Gatarić was separated in 2004, on 25 July 2008 the Bjelovar County State’s Attorney’s Office (hereinafter: the ŽDO) filed an adapted and modified indictment which charged the defendant that, together with the 1st defendant Ljuban Amidžić and other defendants, in the period starting from August 1991, during the war operations conducted against the Republic of Croatia at the temporarily occupied areas of the-then Daruvar Municipality, as a member of Serb terrorist armed formations within the so-called “Serb Autonomous Region of Western Slavonija”, in the capacity of deputy commander of a troop of armed formations in Batinjani, he issued orders to his subordinates and monitored their criminal activities. Thus, members of his troop and other unidentified persons conducted police and military apprehensions and detentions of civilians on a daily basis and wounded and killed civilian population with firearms and destroyed their property although there was no military justification for such actions, which is all contrary to the provisions of the Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, as well as Articles 4, 13 and 14 of the 6th Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949 relative to the Protection of Victims of Non-international Armed Conflicts so that, in compliance with the issued orders within the joint plan in the area of activity of his troop:

– on 19 November 1991 in Vukovje, a group of armed terrorists shot Mija and Ivka Novaković and Štefica Kopriva in front of Mija Novaković’s house,

– on an unspecified date at the end of November 1991 in Koreničani, a group of armed terrorists killed Ivka and Milenko Fabijanec with firearms,

– on 14 December 1991 in Dobra Kuća, a group of armed terrorists killed Mila Paripović and Savka Bogdanović with firearms,

– during September and October 1991 in Vukovje, unidentified persons, members of armed Serb terrorist formations, set on fire the barn and shed to the house No. 12 and seized a tractor owned by Josip Kopriva, damaged the house with the explosive and set on fire the barn and shed to that house, owned by Zdravko Jergović, set on fire the house, barn and shed owned by Stoja Novaković, as well as the barn and shed owned by Nada Plicko,

therefore, having breached the rules of the international humanitarian law in time of armed conflict, he ordered attacks on civilian population, their killing and unlawful huge scale destruction of their property, which was not justified by military needs,

whereby he committed a criminal act against humanity and international humanitarian law – a war crime against civilians referred to in Article 120, paragraph 1 of the OKZ RH.
GENERAL DATA

Bjelovar County Court

Case number : K 18/04

War Crimes Council: Judge Antonija Bagarić, Council President, Judge Milenka Slivar, Council member, Judge Mladen Piškorec, Council member

Indictment: issued by the Bjelovar ŽDO, No. K-DO-54/04 on 25 July 2008

Prosecuting attorney: Branka Merzić, Deputy Bjelovar County State’s Attorney

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

Defendant: Vlado Gatarić, defends himself at large (he was in detention from 4 May until 9 October 1995)

Sel defence counsel of the defendant: Jovan Doneski, a lawyer practising in Garešnica

Victims:
– killed: Mijo Novaković, Ivka Novaković and Štefica Kopriva (inhabitants of the village of Vukovje), Ivka Fabijanec and Milenko Fabijanec (inhabitants of the village of Koreničani), Mila Paripović and Savka Bogdanović (inhabitants of the village of Dobra Kuća)
MONITOTING REPORTS

The main hearing was supposed to commence on 26 January 2009, but due to non-arrival of the defendant it was postponed. Four witnesses were heard before the Extra-trial Chamber.
The main hearing will be subsequently scheduled in writing.