Crime in Prokljan and Mandići

Trial against Božo Bačelić, Ante Mamić, Luka Vuko and Jurica Ravlić, charged with a war crime against civilians under Article 120, paragraph 1 of the OKZRH and a war crime against prisoners of war under Article 122 of the same Act.     INDICTMENT (SUMMARY) The Šibenik ŽDO’s Indictment No. K-DO-45/01 of 1 March 2002 charges defendants Božo Bačelić, Ante Mamić, Luka Vuko and Jurica Ravlić that in Prokljan of the Skradin municipality on 11 August 1995 in the afternoon hours, during the armed conflict between the Croatian Army and Serb paramilitary formations, they committed a war crime against civilians by killing a married couple of Serb ethnicity Milica and Nikola Damjanić. In specific, defendant Bačelić in his capacity as a platoon commander and the other mentioned defendants as members of that platoon of the 113th Reconnaissance Company of the HV Brigade, following the military-police operation Storm, tasked to search this just liberated part of the Croatian territory, found civilians Nikola Damjanić (born in 1919) and his wife Milica (born in 1921) in front of their house. Defendant Bačelić ordered defendants Mamić, Vuko and Ravlić to open fire at the mentioned civilians from automatic firearms so they fired several shots at the civilians and Bačelić did the same. As a result of this shooting, the civilians-injured parties sustained several gunshot injuries as follows: Milica, among other, sustained a bullet exit wound in her head, and Nikola sustained, among other, bullet exit wounds of his both shanks. After that, defendant Mamić, Ravlić and Vuko, by following the Bačelić’s command, placed planks, tires, branches and fishing nets on the dead bodies of the injured persons and set them on fire. Therefore, they committed a war crime against civilians. On 11 May 2007, the Šibenik ŽDO extended the indictment in respect of defendants Božo Bačelić, Ante Mamić and Jurica Ravlić charging them also with war crime prisoners. The defendants are charged that in the Mandići hamlet in the Kistanje municipality, in the afternoon on a still-undetermined date, 9 or 10 of August 1995, during the armed conflict between the Croatian Army and Serb paramilitary formations, they killed a war prisoner. In specific, defendant Bačelić in his capacity as a platoon commander and Mamić and Ravlić as members of that platoon, tasked to search for remaining or just-joined-in members of paramilitary outlaw formations, they captured member of the RSK army Vuk Mandić. They asked him to surrender his hidden rifle. Then, they tied his arms with a rope at the back, pushed him in the “Zastava 101” personal vehicle and took him to an abandoned house located on the road Đevrske-Kistanje. There, they took him out of the vehicle, placed him against the house wall and killed him by firing from automatic weapons and after that they untied his hands.     GENERAL INFORMATION Šibenik County Court Case file number: K-6/02 Panel: judge Jadranka Biga-Milutin, President of the Council, judges Ordana LaburaVijeća, lay judges Željko Scotti, Joško Erceg and Ivan Martinović, Council Members Indictment: No. K-DO-45/01 issued by the Šibenik ŽDO on 1 March 2002 Prosecution: Živana Beroš-Dodig, Šibenik County Deputy State’s Attorney Criminal offence: war crime against civilians under Article 120, paragraph 1 of the OKZRH and war crime against war prisoners under Article 122 of the same Act Defendants: Božo Bačelić, Ante Mamić, Luka Vuko and Jurica Ravlić Defence: Jure Martinović, lawyer practicing in Zadar, Mladen Klarić, lawyer practicing Šibenik, Marko Marinović, lawyer practicing in Zadar, Željko Gulišija, lawyer practicing in Zadar and Mijo Jeličić, lawyer practicing in Zadar Victims – killed: Milica and Nikola Damjanić Repeated trial Split County Court Case file number: Krz-1/11 Panel: judge Ivona Rupić, President of the Council, judge Stanko Grbavac and judge Mlađan Prvan, Council Members Indictment: No. K- DO-45/01 of 1 March 2002 and 11 May 2007 issued by the Šibenik ŽDO Prosecution: Zvonko Ivić, Šibenik County Deputy State Attorney Criminal offence: war crime against civilians under Article 120, paragraph 1 of the OKZRH, war crimes against war prisoners under Article 122, paragraph 1 of the same Act. Defence: representing the 1st defendant, Tomislav Jonjić representing the 2nd defendant, Marko Marinović representing the 3rd defendant, Željko and Vinko Gulišija representing the 4th defendant, Mijo Jeličić Victims – killed: Milica and Nikola Damjanić, Vuk Mandić TRIAL HISTORY OF THE CASE AND VERDICTS Defendants were arrested for the first time on 4 September 2001. By the Šibenik County Court verdict no. K-6/02 of 11 September 2002, the defendants were acquitted. The VSRH’s chamber, in its decision no. I Kž 65/03-8 of 5 April 2007 upheld the appeal of the State Attorney’s Office, quashed the first-instance verdict and remanded the case for retrial to be held before completely changed council composition. Click here to read in Croatian the VSRH’s decision of 5 April 2007. Defendants Mamić, Vuko and Ravlić were returned to custody after the issuance of the verdict in 2007 by the VSRH whereas the 1st defendant Bačelić was not returned because he became unavailable. Mamić, Vuko and Ravlić were kept in custody until the expiry of maximum detention period, and with this expiry their detention was vacated. Defendant Bačelić was arrested in Germany in February 2012 and Germany extradited him to Croatia in April 2012.     VERDICT On 13 June 2013, the Split County Court pronounced the first-instance verdict in which Božo Bačelić was sentenced to a single prison sentence in the duration of five years and ten months. Bačelić received the minimum sentence prescribed by law for war crime against civilians and he also received the minimum sentence for war against prisoners and these two sentences were merged into a single prison sentence. Ante Mamić and Jurica Ravlić were acquitted of the charges that they participated in killing the war prisoner; the charges against Ante Mamić, Jurica Ravlić and Luka Vuko for aiding and abetting the perpetrator after killing two civilians were rejected because it came to a statute of limitation for criminal prosecution.