Crime in Branjina

Trial against Iso Horvat, Branislav Poznanović, Dušan Horvat, Đorđe Vujčić, Jakša Ubavić, Aleksandar Huba, Jovan Mihajlović, Dušan Maličić, Slobodan Nikolić, Vidoja Bošković, Svetozar Bošković and Savo Bošnjak for criminal offence of genocide stated in Article 119 of the OKZ RH.

 

INDICTMENT

On 23 November 1995, the Osijek County State Attorney’s Office issued the indictment No: KT-93/94 against Iso Horvat et al. for criminal offence of genocide stated in Article 119 of the OKZ RH.

On 04 April 1996, the same county state attorney’s office issued the indictment No:KT-93/94 against the accused Svetozar Bošković et al. for criminal offence of genocide stated in Article 119 of the OKZ RH.

The indictment was merged on 17 March 1997.

Following the ruling passed by the extra-trial chamber of the Osijek County Court, two criminal proceedings were merged in order to conduct the joint proceedings.

Subsequent to the motion dated on 19 February 2002, the indictment was amended so that the accused persons were charged with commission of criminal offence of war crime against civilians stated in Article 120, Paragraph 1 of the OKZ RH.

 

GENERAL DATA

Osijek County Court

Case No: K-73/95, K-46/05 (repeated trial)

War Crimes Council (judges’ panel): judge Damir Krahulec, Council President; judge Ante Kvesić, Council member; lay judges Stanislava Karnaš, Ljubica Kotromanović and Nada Kovačević, Council members.

-in the repeated trial: judge Damir Krahulec, Council President; judge Zvonimir Tomaković, Council member; judge Katica Krajnović, Council member.

Prosecutor: Željko Krpan, Osijek County Deputy State Attorney

Criminal offence: genocide stated in Article 119 of the OKZ RH, after amendment to the indictment: war crime against civilians stated in Article 120, Paragraph 1 of the OKZ RH

Accused persons/Defendants: Iso Horvat, Branislav Poznanović, Dušan Horvat, Đorđe Vujčić, Jakša Ubavić, Aleksandar Huba, Jovan Mihajlović, Dušan Maličić, Slobodan Nikolić, Vidoja Bošković, Svetozar Bošković and Savo Bošnjak

Defence Counsels: Milenko Ilić, lawyer from Osijek, court-appointed legal counsel; in the repeated trial: Miroslav Šatlan, lawyer from Osijek, legal counsel authorised by the accused Savo Bošnjak

Victims:

victims whose houses were damaged by bursts of fire from automatic weapons or damaged by explosive devices: Dragutin Švogor, Joso Burazer, Milka Novoselac, Antun Milak, Antun Lukić, Frane Petković, Ignac Matoš, Slavko Marton, Josip Đurkas, Mirko Kuhar, Marija Horvatić, Josip Bugarin, Slavko Milak, Branko Leskovar, Slavek Lovrek, Martin Pilinger, Antun Ceglec, Stjepan Piskač, Mirko Ceglec, Marko Marton, Mirko Rohtek, Milan Copak and Antun Lukić

victims who were ordered to perform forced labour: Mirko Ceglec, Josip Jambović, Nenad Marton, Ivan Podgorelec, Mirko Rohtek, Antun Ceglec, Milan Novoselac, Vlado Bugarin, Mirko Horvatić, Maca Copak, Eva Bugarin and Frane Petković

illegally arrested victims who were physically and/or mentally abused: Dragutin Švogor, Antun Lukić, Nedjeljko Copak, Goran Milak, Milan Novoselac, Vlado Bugarin, Mirko Horvatić, Frane Petković, Šime Petković, Ivica Švogor, Slavek Lovrek, Boris Pilinger, Josip Kapoši, Joso Burazer, Antun Milak, Igor Milak and Dragan Samardžić

victims held as hostages: Dragutin Švogor, Joso Burazer, Filip Bugarin, Milan Novoselac, Nedjeljko Copak, Vlado Bugarin, Frane Petković, Slavek Lovrek, Antun Milak, Mirko Rohtek, Milan Copak, Stjepan Punčec, Ivica Švogor, Zdravko Kokanović, Nenad Marton, Mirko Ceglec, Ivan Podgorelec and Josip Jambrović

victims who were laid off and lost their jobs because of their “inappropriate ethnicity” (non-Serb ethnicity): Mirko Horvatić, Slavek Lovrek, Mirko Horvat, Marijan Ceglec and Frane Petković

victims whose houses were burnt down: Ivan Batina, Dragutin Banić, Antun Kramar, Stevo Kovačević, August Mikulek, Marijana Mikulek and Antun Krčmar

expelled from Branjina: 297 inhabitants of Branjina of Croat ethnicity

 

 

VERDICT (SUMMARY)

According to the Osijek County Court’s verdict dated on 14 May 2002, the accused persons were found guilty as charged that, after the (Serb) occupation of Baranja, in the Baranja’s village of Branjina, with the majority population of Croat ethnicity, starting with August 1991 and lasting until August 1994, they joined and took over the power in Branjina by forming the so-called Branjina Territorial Defence Headquarters with the intention of expelling Croats and making Branjina an ethnically uniform and “clean” Serb village, they were making decisions and undertaking the activities by which the entire Croat population was exposed to physical and mental abuse which was facilitated by:

– imposing the limitations to freedom of movement by placing the whole area under curfew and strictly forbidding the movement in the village during the night, by introducing the documents i.e. passes for leaving the village, and forbidding the meetings and visits among the Croat population;

– forced drafting of Croats into the so-called Territorial Defence with threats of being killed or expelled from the village if they disobey the draft order;

– night-time shootings, firing rifle grenades, planting explosive devices and throwing hand grenades into the houses and commercial facilities belonging to Croats;

– ordering the Croats to perform forced labour (with no fee);

– illegal arresting and taking the Croats to the (Branjina) Territorial Defence Headquarters for interrogation and physical and mental abuse;

– taking adult Croats as hostages during ongoing military operations and threatening to kill them in retaliation – 10 Croats to be killed for each Serb soldier killed in action and 5 Croats for each Roma soldier killed in action;

– direct threats to kill members of Croat population unless they moved away and left their property in Branjina;

– making indirect death threats by writing warning messages on the houses and fences belonging to Croats and making telephone calls with threats to kill the Croats receiving the calls;

– making the lists of the employed Croats, declaring those Croats ethnically unfavourable, and by submitting those lists to the Baranja’s companies with a request to terminate employment with the named persons;

– burning down the houses and commercial facilities belonging to Croats;

– plundering the Croats’ houses and misappropriation of their valuable movable property;

– depriving the Croats of any rights they were entitled to as inhabitants of Branjina;

– forcing the Croats to sign the statements upon their eviction/expulsion claiming that they were voluntary relinquishing all of their property to the newly established (Serb) authorities in the village;

which all caused almost entire Croat population (297 persons) of Branjina to be intimidated by the terrorising and to leave their homes, property and all movable property behind, which was looted after they were expelled, while the inhabitants of Branjina moved to the free area of the Republic of Croatia, and Branjina was thus ethnically cleansed of Croat population.

According to the Osijek County Court verdict passed on 14 May 2002, the first-accused Iso Horvat and the second-accused Branislav Poznanović were sentenced to 15 years in prison each. Dušan Horvat, Đorđe Vujičić, Jakša Ubavić, Aleksandar Huba, Jovan Mihajlović, Dušan Maličić, Slobodan Nikolić, Vidoja Bošković, Svetozar Bošković and Savo Bošnjak were sentenced to 13 years in prison each.

The Supreme Court of the Republic of Croatia on 24 February 2004 granted the appeal lodged by the accused Savo Bošnjak, quashed the first-instance court verdict section in respect of Bošnjak and remanded the case referring to Bošnjak to the first-instance court for retrial.

The appeals lodged by other accused persons were dismissed as unfounded by the Supreme Court of the Republic of Croatia which upheld the first-instance court verdict in respect of those persons.

After the completion of the evidence procedure in the repeated first-instance proceedings, the County State Attorney’s Office (the prosecutor) withdrew from further criminal prosecution against the accused Savo Bošnjak so the War Crimes Council (Judges’ Panel) of the Osijek County Court on 26 October 2005 passed the judgement by which the criminal complaint against the accused Bošnjak was rejected.