Crime in Novska II

On 8 March 2010, the main hearing began at the Sisak County Court in the trial against Vide Damir Raguž and Željko Škledar, indicted for committing a war crime against civilians in Novska on 21 November 1991. On 16 April 2010, the defendant Vide Damir Raguž was found guilty by the first instance verdict and he was sentenced to 20 years in prison, whereas the defendant Željko Škledar was acquitted of charges. The session of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Croatia was held on 10 July 2012. Supreme Court of the Republic of Croatia quashed the verdict of Sisak County Court.

On 7 February 2013, the Zagreb County Count rendered the first-instance verdict in which Damir Vid Raguž and Željko Škledar were acquitted of the charges.

INDICTMENT (SUMMARY) The Indictment charges Vide Damir Raguž and Željko Škledar that on 21 November 1991 in Novska – as members of the 1st Brigade of the Croatian Army (HV), together with presently deceased Dubravko Leskovar and deceased Ante Perković, Marijan Kumić and Boris Tutić, also the 1st brigade members, came to the house of Mišo Rašković; there they found Mišo and Sajka Rašković; they brought in Mihajlo Šeatović and Ljuban Vujić from the neighbouring house; and after Leskovar began abusing one of the captured men, what made Kumić and Tutić leave the house not agreeing to such actions – the defendants together with Leskovar and Perković abused and killed Mišo and Sajka Rašković, Mihajlo Šeatović and Ljuban Vujić by shooting from automatic rifle and thus committed a criminal act of a war crime against civilians under Article 120, paragraph 1 of the OKZRH. You can see the Indictment No. K-DO-16/09 issued by the Sisak County State’s Attorney and dated 15 January 2010 here (in Croatian). PREVIOUS CASE HISTORY The Zagreb Military Prosecution laid the Indictment No. KTV-517/92 of 23 March 1992 against Dubravko Leskovar and Vide Damir Raguž for a criminal act of a murder, in its qualified form, and not for a war crime against civilians. Personal and material evidence which was pointing at the defendants’ responsibility was presented at the main hearing before the Military Court in Zagreb. Despite that, the court panel, under the presiding judge Krešimir Mudrovčić, issued a decision on 10 November 1992 whereby the criminal proceedings was suspended pursuant to the then-valid General Amnesty Act granting general amnesty from criminal prosecution and proceedings against perpetrators of criminal acts committed in armed conflicts and in war against the Republic of Croatia. The Military Prosecution did not appeal against the mentioned decision. The DORH[1] decided it would try on remedying mistakes made by itself and the courts. It instigated again criminal prosecution against the perpetrators. On 30 July 2009, the Sisak ŽDO lodged an investigation request against Vide Damir Raguž and Željko Škledar because there existed reasonable grounds for suspicion that they committed a war crime against civilians. Other potential perpetrators of the crime are no longer alive (Dubravko Leskovar and Ante Perković died in the meantime). Investigative judge of the Sisak County Court issued a decision to launch investigation. However, the Sisak County Court’s extra-trial chamber revoked the decision in respect of Damir Raguž and reversed the case back to the investigative judge to be decided upon again. As a consequence, the investigative judge rejected the initial request to launch investigation. She explained this by stating that a trial had already been conducted before the Military Court in Zagreb in the Raguž case in respect of the same factual description. On 3 December 2009, the Croatian Supreme Court accepted the state attorney’s appeal, modified the decision, accepted the request for investigation and requested launching of investigation. The Supreme Court was of the opinion that the factual description in question contained additional facts and as such was significantly of a wider extent when compared to the quantity of facts in the trial before the Military Court in Zagreb. It also found that this obviously was not the case of the matter already judged [res iudicata]. You can see here the decision of the Supreme Court (in Croatian) here. GENERAL INFORMATION Sisak County Court Case file number: K-2/10 War Crimes Council: judge Snježana Mrkoci, Council President; judges Predrag Jovanić and Ljubica Balder, Council Members

Indictment: No. K-DO -16/09 of 15 January 2010 issued by the Sisak District State Attorney’s Office, modified in April 2010.

Criminal act: war crime against civilians, Article 120, paragraph 1 of the OKZRH Prosecution: Jadranka Huskić, the Sisak County Deputy State’s Attorney Defendants: 1st defendant Vide Damir Raguž – unavailable to Croatian judiciary and therefore tried in absentia; 2nd defendant Željko Škledar Defence: Željko Dumančić, a lawyer practicing in Zagreb representing the 1st defendant; Nataša Čučić, a lawyer practicing in Sisak representing the 2nd defendant Injured party’s proxy holder: Vinko Dizdar, a lawyer practicing in Novska Victims – abused and killed: Sajka Rašković, Miša Rašković, Mihajlo Šeatović, Ljuban Vujić Zagreb County Court Case file number: War Crimes Council: judge Tomislav Juriša, Council President; judges Mirko Klinžić and Petar Šakić, Council Members VERDICT

On 16 April 2010, the defendant Vide Damir Raguž was found guilty by the first instance verdict and he was sentenced to 20 years in prison, whereas the defendant Željko Škledar was acquitted of charges. The session of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Croatia was held on 10 July 2012. Supreme Court of the Republic of Croatia quashed the verdict of Sisak County Court. On 7 February 2013, the Zagreb County Count rendered the first-instance verdict in which Damir Vid Raguž and Željko Škledar were acquitted of the charges.

[1] DORH: Croatian State Attorney’s Office