Crime in Baranja

A third trial (second repeated) against Petar Mamula accused for committing a war crime against civilians pursuant to Article 120, paragraph 1 of the OKZRH began on 18 March 2009 before the War Crimes Council of the Osijek County Court. This Court announced the verdict on 7 April 2009 which found the defendant guilty and sentenced him to a prison term in duration of 4 years and 10 months. The public session of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Croatia (VSRH) was held on 3 August 2010. Supreme Court of the Republic of Croatia quashed the verdict of Osijek County Court and reversed the case for re-trial. The main hearing in the fourth (third repeated) trial began on 22 February 2011. On 23 March 2011, the War Crimes Council of the Osijek County Court found defendant Petar Mamula guilty and sentenced him to 3 years and 6 months in prison. The VSRH held its session on 12 October 2011. We are not yet familiar with its decision. After the fifth (fourth repeated) main hearing held on 10 February 2012, the defendant was found guilty and sentenced to 3 years and 6 months in prison.

INDICTMENT(SUMMARY) The Osijek County State’s Attorney’s Office issued the indictment (No. KT-136/94 of 3 April 2001) against 58 persons for a criminal act stated in Article 120, paragraph 1 of the Basic Criminal Law of the Republic of Croatia (hereinafter: the OKZRH). In October 2001, the trial against the defendants Nikola Alaica, Mile Bekić, Drago Karagaća, Petar Mamula, Milan Prusac and Sreto Jovandić was separated in respect of the defendants who are not available to the Croatian Judiciary. Following the conclusion of the evidence procedure, the indictment was modified on 14 March 2002. With the mentioned modification, six defendants were charged for committing a criminal offence of war crime against civilians pursuant to Article 120, paragraph 1 of the OKZRH. The Supreme Court of the Republic of Croatia quashed the verdict of guilty pronounced by the Osijek County Court. Following to that, the trial was repeated and the indictment was modified during a main hearing held on 4 May 2006. The defendants Nikola Alaica, Mile Bekić, Drago Karagaća, Milan Prusac and Sreto Jovandić were charged for committing a criminal offence against the Republic of Croatia – the offence of armed rebellion referred to in Article 235 of the Criminal Law of the Republic of Croatia. With the mentioned modification, the defendant Petar Mamula was charged that he, in his capacity as a participant of the armed rebellion of the local Serb population, in Beli Manastir, Batina and Kneževi Vinogradi during August and September 1991 acting against the constitutional-legal order of the Republic of Croatia, contrary to the provisions of Article 3, paragraph 1, item (a) of the Geneva Convention on Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, and the provisions of Article 4, paragraph 2, item (a) and Article 13, paragraph 2 of the Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions relating to the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts (Protocol II), participated in intimidation and cruel physical and psychological abuse of non-Serb civilians in Baranja and thus: – at the beginning of September 1991, he came to the basement of the “militia” SUP (the Secretariat of Internal Affairs) Beli Manastir, where arrested Croats were held, several of them were taken out of the cell into another room and there Mamula beat up Pavo Zemljak and fired a shot next to him. – on September 9, 1991 at the Headquarters of TO Batina, he interrogated unlawfully arrested Catholic priest Antun Knežević, beat his head and shot from the pistol near his head, brought him by a car to Kneževi Vinogradi and during the ride threatened to kill him. He took the watch from the priest and shot into the watch. He then put the pistol next to the priest’s left ear and shot one bullet. The ear-drum burst due to the detonation and the priest fell on the floor. Then, the other members of TO Kneževi Vinogradi were beating the priest with their feet and after the beating, the accused drove the priest to SUP Beli Manastir. There he told the priest to stand by the doorman’s booth and spread his feet, he kicked the priest in the genitals and turned him in to prison. The accused had, therefore, violated the rules of international law during times of armed conflict, inhumanely acted towards civilians and caused them great pain and injuries to their physical integrity. In doing so, he committed criminal acts against humanity and international law – the war crime against civilians stated in the Article 120, paragraph 1 of the Basic Criminal Law of the Republic of Croatia. On 8 May 2006, a verdict was pronounced by which the indictment was suspended in respect of the defendants Nikola Alaica, Mile Bekić, Dragan Karagaća, Milan Prusac and Sreto Jovandić, whereas the defendant Petar Mamula was found guilty and sentenced to 4 years and 10 months of imprisonment. The Croatian Supreme Court quashed the verdict in respect of the defendant Petar Mamula. Following to that, in a third trial (second repeated) which commenced on 18 March 2009, the prosecution upheld the indictment as was modified on 4 May 2006. The indictment was amended on 23 March 2011 during the fourth (third repeated) trial. GENERAL INFORMATION Osijek County Court Case No.: Krz 88/08; Krz 76/10

War Crimes Council (the panel): Judge Zvonko Vekić, Council President; judges Drago Grubeša and Katica Krajnović, Council members The War Crimes Council in the fourth (third repeated) trial: judge Zvonko Vrban, Council President, judges Ružica Šamota and Dubravka Vučetić, Council Members
Indictment: No. KT-136/94 of 3 April 2001, modified on 14 March 2002, on 4 May 2006 and on 23 Marth 2011

Prosecution: Zlatko Bučević, the Osijek County Deputy State’s Attorney; Miroslav Dasović, the Osijek County Deputy State’s Attorney Criminal offence: the war crime against civilians referred to in Article 120, paragraph 1 of the Basic Criminal Law of the Republic of Croatia (hereinafter: the OKZRH) Defendant: Petar Mamula, kept in custody from 6 October 2000 until 7 May 2003 Defence lawyers representing the defendant: Lina Budak and Artur Fišbah TRIAL MONITORING REPORTS The third main hearing (second repeated) began on 18 March 2009. Due to a replacement of the Council member (the judge Drago Grubeša was appointed instead of the judge Josip Frajlić) the main hearing started anew on 31 March 2009 and was concluded on the same day.

The main hearing in the fourth (third repeated) trial began on 22 February 2011.

VERDICTS On 5 April 2002, the Osijek County Court pronounced a verdict whereby the defendants were found guilty and sentenced to prison terms: Nikola Alaica was sentenced to six years of imprisonment, Mile Bekić – three years in prison, Drago Karagaća – two years in prison, Petar Mamula – five years and six months in prison, Milan Prusac – two years, and Sreto Jovandić- two years. The Council of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Croatia, at its public session held on 6 and 7 May 2003, upheld the appeal by the defendants finding it to be founded and quashed the mentioned verdict and reversed the case to the first-instance court for a retrial. After the repeated trial was completed, on 8 May 2006, the War Crime Council of the Osijek County Court pronounced the verdict on suspension of indictment against accused Alaica, Bekić, Karagaća, Prusac and Jovandić. Previously, the prosecutor had modified the indictment concerning the mentioned accused persons in a way that they were charged for a criminal act of armed rebellion (instead of war crime). Accused Petar Mamula was found guilty for war crime against civilians and was sentenced to four years and ten months of imprisonment. The Council of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Croatia, at its public session held on October 15, 2008, quashed the convicting section of the verdict of the War Crime Council of the Osijek County Court and reversed the case to the first-instance court for a retrial. On 7 April 2009, the President of the War Crimes Council of the Osijek County Court announced a verdict before appeal (non-final verdict) No. Krz-88/08, which found the defendant Petar Mamula guilty of war crime against civilians pursuant to Article 120, paragraph 1 of the OKZRH and sentenced him to a prison term in duration of 4 years and 10 months.

The public session of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Croatia (VSRH) was held on 3 August 2010. You can read the report on monitoring this session here. (in Croatian) Supreme Court of the Republic of Croatia quashed the verdict of Osijek County Court and reversed the case for re-trial. On 23 March 2011, the War Crimes Council of the Osijek County Court found defendant Petar Mamula guilty and sentenced him to 3 years and 6 months in prison. The VSRH held its session on 12 October 2011. We are not yet familiar with its decision. After the fifth (fourth repeated) main hearing held on 10 February 2012, the defendant was found guilty and sentenced to 3 years and 6 months in prison.
FINAL OPINION OF THE MONITORING TEAM FOLLOWING THE CONCLUSION OF THE SECOND (FIRST REPEATED) TRIAL

The War Crime Council of the County Court in Osijek correctly instituted the repeated criminal proceedings against the accused Nikola Alaica, Mile Bekić, Drago Karagaća, Petar Mamula, Milan Prusac and Sreto Jovandić, who are charged with war crimes against civilians in Baranja between the years of 1991-1993. The dismissed verdict in case of accused Nikola Alaica, Mile Bekić, Drago Karagaća, Milan Prusac and Sreto Jovandić was instituted after five years of legal proceedings which were conducted without sufficient indictment evidence. In 2001, the District Attorney’s Office in Osijek brought charges for war crimes against civilians for the same acts and with the same evidence that in the repeated procedure changes into criminal acts of armed rebellion. Nikola Alaica and Mile Bekić are accused of armed rebellion, although they were already given amnesty for that crime in 1997, according to the General Amnesty Act. Each of the accused spent two years in prison.

It is of special concern that the indictment is very general and relates to a very long period of time, without being sufficiently concrete, and their charge is not represented as a war crime. The basis of this indictment leads to the conclusion that the accused (except for Petar Mamula) are criminally prosecuted because they joined “the other side”. For example, the accused Drago Karagaća, among others, is charged because he … “performed military duties at the watchtower from March 1992 until fall of 1993, and the accused Milan Prusac was …”ordered by his superiors to perform other police labour…”. The War Crime Council declared the accused Petar Mamula guilty and gave him a prison sentence shorter than the one in the previous procedures, one of 4 years and 10 months. The Council explained their sentence by stating that there continue to be doubts in parts of the statements made by the key prosecution witnesses – Jovan Narandža and Veljko Salonja. The court did not establish which military or paramilitary unit the prosecuted belonged to.
FINAL OPINION OF THE MONITORING TEAM FOLLOWING THE CONCLUSION OF THE THIRD (SECOND REPEATED) TRIAL
On 7 April 2009, the War Crime Council of the Osijek County Court announced the first-instance court verdict no. Krz-88/08, which found the def. Petar Mamula guilty and sentenced him to 4 years and 10 months in prison for criminal act of war crime against civilian population referred to in Article 120, paragraph 1 of the OKZ RH. The third (second repeated) trial was conducted correctly, in accordance with the provisions of the Criminal Procedure Act. The first-instance court presented the evidence, the presentation of which had been instructed by the Supreme Court of the Republic of Croatia, including the evidence which was found to be necessary and which was proposed by the defence. In accordance with aforementioned, the first-instance court carried out an inspection into the court files Kio-30/97, Kio 29/97, and into the verdict of the Osijek County Court no. K-17/06. On the basis of this inspection, the Court was to determine for which reasons (factual substratum) the investigation against the def. Petar Mamula had been terminated, and accordingly, whether the concerned offence had already been legally adjudicated. The witnesses Jovan Narandža, Veljko Salonja and Antun Knežević were heard again. On the basis of the presented material evidence, the court found that the actions constituting the criminal offence that the defendant is charged with in this trial are not identical to the actions which were the subject matter of the investigation terminated by the decision of the Osijek County Court No: Kio-30/97 following the application of the General Amnesty Act. On the basis of the presented personal evidence, i.e. the depositions of witnesses who were heard again, the read testimonies of previously heard witnesses, the court found that the def. Petar Mamula did commit a criminal act of war crime against civilians referred to in Article 120, paragraph 1 of the OKZ RH, as he was charged in the modified indictment.

When deciding on the degree and purpose of the sentence, the court found that the purpose of punishing would be fulfilled with the pronounced less stringent sentence.