Crime in Lovas

On 29 April 2009 at the Vukovar County Court, criminal proceedings against defendants Milan Tepavac and Ilija Vorkapić – who attend the trial – was separated from the proceedings against the following defendants who are not available to Croatian judiciary: Ljuban Devetak, Milan Devčić, Milenko Rudić, Željko Krnjajić, Slobodan Zoraja, Željko Brajković, Ilija Kresojević, Milan Rendulić, Obrad Tepavac, Zoran Tepavac, Milan Tepavac, Milan Radojčić, Milan Vorkapić, Dušan Grković and Đuro Prodanović.

In December 2010, the Tepavac case was separated from the Vorkapić case due to the incapability of Tepavac to stand trial.

On 2 February 2012, the first-instance verdict was rendered in which defendant Vorkapićs was acquitted.

The VSRH Appeals Chamber at its session held on 28 November 2012 rejected the appeal by the State Attorney and confirmed the verdict rendered by the first-instance court.

 

THE INDICTMENT (SUMMARY)

The indictment charges the defendants with the following crimes:

· At around 7.30 a.m. on 10 October 1991, the defendants, at the time members of the territorial defence forces and the Chetnik unit «Dušan Silni», whose aims were creation of «Great Serbia» and ethnic cleansing of a part of Croatia, acting together and with specifically delegated tasks, launched a cannon attack on the village of Lovas along with the Novi Sad army corps of the YNA, aiming missiles at civilian objects although they knew there were no Croatian military units in the village. After this attack, they launched an infantry attack on the village, killing civilians who happened to be in the streets. 30 inhabitants of Lovas died in these attacks.

· After the occupation of the village, the defendants forced Croatian civilians to wear white bands around their sleeves, they marked their houses and restricted their movement.

· They arrested, tortured and threatened Croatian civilians with death, forced them to labour, robbed them and raped female Croatian villagers.

· The defendant Ljuban Devetak is charged with singling out a large group of Croats on the day of 18 October 1991, who were then taken to a mine field where 24 persons died.

In respect of defendant Vorkapić, the indictment was amended on 4 November 2011. According to the amended indictment, the defendant is charged that, at the beginning of October 1991, knowing that commander Ljuban Devetak had issued an order to bring all men of Croatian ethnicity to the agribusiness yard and that the following day about 80 persons were to be taken to the minefield, he was on the guard armed with a rifle in the night of 17/18 October 1991 and had to watch that some of the detained persons do not attempt to escape, while the members of the “Dušan Silni” chetnik squad were beating, kicking and stabbing the detainees with knifes; the detainees were taken to the minefield on 18 October 1991 where caused by mine explosions 24 of them were killed and 15 wounded.

GENERAL INFORMATION

Vukovar County Court

Case No: K-25/00, became K-20/09 following the separation of the proceedings

War Crimes Council: judge Jadranka Kurbel, President of the Council, judges Berislav Matanović and Željko Marin, Council Members

Remark: Beginning 2009, the composition of the Council was changed. Prior to that the Council comprised judge Ante Zeljko, as the Council President and judges Zlata Sotirov and Nevenka Zeko as the Council members

Indictments: the indictment number KT-265/92, issued by the Osijek County State Attorney’s Office on 19 December 1994, and the indictment number K-DO-44/04, issued by the Vukovar County State Attorney’s Office on 1 October 2004, were combined into a single indictment numbered K-DO-39/00. In respect of defendant Ilija Vorkapić, the indictment was amended on 4 November 2011.

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

Criminal offences: genocide pursuant to Article 119, and a war crime against civilians pursuant to Article 120, Paragraph 1 of the OKZRH

Defendants: Ilija Vorkapić, attends the trial and are not kept in custody

Remark: Initially, the indictment was laid against 18 accused persons. Proceedings were discontinued in respect of defendant Milorad Vorkapić in 2003, and Radovan Tepavac in 2005 because they passed away. Based on the Council’s decision of 29 April 2009, the proceedings against available defendants was separated from the proceedings against the following fourteen defendants who are not available to Croatian judiciary: Ljuban Devetak, Milan Devčić, Milenko Rudić, Željko Krnjajić, Slobodan Zoraja, Željko Brajković, Ilija Kresojević, Milan Rendulić, Obrad Tepavac, Zoran Tepavac, Milan Radojčić, Milan Vorkapić, Dušan Grković and Đuro Prodanović.
In December 2010, the Tepavac case was separated from the Vorkapić case due to the incapability of Tepavac to stand trial.

Defence: Stjepan Šporčić (court-appointed attorney representing the defendants Devetak and Zoraja), Andrej Georgievski (court-appointed attorney representing the defendants Radojčić and Grković), Biserka Treneski (court-appointed attorney representing the defendants Devčić and Brajković), Šime Filipović (court-appointed attorney representing the defendants Rudić and Obrad Tepavac), Ivica Mačvanin (selected defending attorney of the defendant Ilija Vorkapić and a court-appointed attorney representing the defendants Zoran Tepavac and Milan Vorkapić), Branko Ivić (court-appointed attorney representing the defendants Krnjajić, Rendulić and Prodanović), Vojislav Ore (court-appointed attorney representing the defendant Kresojević) and Tomislav Filaković (selected defending attorney of the defendant Milan Tepavac)

Victims:

– 69 killed persons, 24 of whom died in the mine field (Božo Mađarac, Mijo Šalaj, Tomislav Sabljak, Slavko Štrangarić, Nikola Badanjak, Marko Vidić, Mato Hodak, Tomo Sabljak Junior, Ivica Sabljak, Slavko Kuzmić, Petar Badanjak, Marko Marković, Ivan Conjar, Ivan Kraljević Junior, Ivan Palijan, Josip Turkalj, Luka Balić, Željko Pavlić, Darko Pavlić, Darko Sokolović, Zlatko Božić, Ivin Vidić, Antun Panjek and Zlatko Panjek), and 45 of whom died in other ways (Danijel Badanjak, Ilija Badanjak, Antun Jovanović, Anka Jovanović, Kata Pavličević, Alojzije Polić, Mato Keser, Josip Poljak, Ivan Ostrun, Dragutin Pejić, Stipo Mađarević, Pavo Đaković, Stipo Pejić, Živan Antolović, Milan Latas, Juraj Poljak, Mijo Božić, Vida Kriznarić, Josip Kraljević, Mirko Grgić, Mato Adamović, Marko Sabljak, Zoran Krizmanić, Josip Jovanović, Marin Balić, Katica Balić, Josip Turkalj, Petar Luketić, Ante Luketić, Đuka Luketić, Jozefina Pavošević, Marijana Pavošević, Slavica Pavošević, Stipo Luketić, Marija Luketić, Josip Rendulić, Rudolf Jonak, Andrija Deličić, Pero Rendulić, Franjo Pandža, Božo Vidić, Zvonko Martinović, Marko Damjanović, Anica Lemunović and Đuka Krizmanić)

– 33 seriously injured persons, 15 of whom were injured in the mine field (Marko Filić, Emanuel Filić, Stjepan Peulić, Josip Sabljak, Stanislav Franković, Mirko Kefer, Ivica Mujić, Ljubo Solaković, Milan Radmilović, Zlatko Tomo, Josip Gešnja, Mato Kraljević, Petar Vuleta, Lovro Geistner and Dragan Sabljak), and 18 of whom received injuries from torture (Mato Mađarević, Đuro Filić, Zoran Jovanović, Marija Vidić, Đuka Radočaj, Berislav Filić, Emanuel Filić, Pavo Antolović, Ivo Antolović, Željko Francisković, Ivan Đaković, Anđelko Filić, Zvonko Balić, Vjekoslav Balić, Man Pejak, Petar Sabljak and Marko Grčanac)
TRIAL MONITORING REPORTS

Click here to read in Croatian the trial monitoring reports on the LOVAS war crime case

On 29 December 2004, the Vukovar County Court issued the decision No. Kv-199/04, merging the criminal cases No. K-25/00 (instigated by the indictment No. KT-265/92 of 19 December 1994, issued by the Osijek County State Attorney’s Office and charging 18 persons – the foregoing defendants and in the meantime deceased Milorad Vorkapić and Radovan Tepavac – with genocide pursuant to Article 119, and a war crime against civilians pursuant to Article 120, Paragraph 1 of the Penal Law) and No. K-52/04 (instigated by the indictment No. K-DO-44/04, issued by the Vukovar County State Attorney’s Office, charging Obrad Tepavac and Zoran Tepavac with a war crime against civilians pursuant to Article 120, paragraph 1 of the OKZRH) into a single criminal procedure No. K-25/00.

The proceedings against defendants Milorad Vorkapić and Radovan Tepavac were terminated in 2003 and 2005, respectively, because they passed away.

Until December 2007, Ilija Vorkapić was the only defendant who attended the court hearings. Following the arrest of the defendant Milan Tepavac in April 2007 (detained since then), the trial started anew in December 2007. While in custody, defendant Milan Tepavac suffered a stroke. Currently (April 2009), both defendants (Milan Tepavac and Ilija Vorkapić) are not detained and they attend the trial.

The monitors from the Centre for Peace, Non-Violence and Human Rights Osijek have been observing the trial since 20 April 2005. Until September 2006, court sessions were held regularly so the trial did not have to start anew. However, from September 2006 to December 2007 not a single court session was held. In the meantime, the accused Milan Tepavac was arrested and the trial started from the beginning.

In June 2008, the witnesses Miodrag Dimitrijević and Darko Perić, among the others, were examined through a video link at an out-of-court session. The mentioned persons are the accused persons in the criminal procedure conducted for a war crime against civilians committed in Lovas before the Belgrade District Court.

Beginning 2009, the composition of the Council was changed.

On 29 April 2009, the Council issued a decision to separate the proceedings against defendants Milan Tepavac and Ilija Vorkapić from the proceedings against the defendants who are not available to Croatian judiciary. The Vukovar ŽDO was requested to modify within the period of 15 days the indictment in accordance with the court files’ current status.

On 10 June 2009, the main hearing had to be postponed because according to the finding and opinion of the expert psychiatrist, defendant Tepavac was found to be temporarily mentally unfit for trial.

In December 2010, the Tepavac case was separated from the Vorkapić case due to the incapability of Tepavac to stand trial.
VERDICT

On 2 February 2012, the first-instance verdict was rendered in which defendant Vorkapić was acquitted. Click here for the first-instance verdict.

The VSRH Appeals Chamber at its session held on 28 November 2012 rejected the appeal by the State Attorney and confirmed the verdict rendered by the first-instance court.

 

Click here to read in Croatian the opinion on the course of the trial drawn up in December 2007.