Crime in Slunjska Selnica (defendant Miroslav Bijelić et. al)

The main hearing began on 29 April 2010 at the Karlovac County Court in the repeated trial against the defendants Miroslav Bijelić, Savo Padežanin, Đuro Tepšić and Rade Bjeloš, indicted for the commission of a war crime against civilians.
By the verdict issued by the War Crime Council of the Karlovac County Court on 29 June 2010, the defendants Bijelić, Padežanin and Tepšić were found guilty and sentenced to 10 years of imprisonment each. The defendant Bjeloš was acquitted of all charges.

INDICTMENT (SUMMARY)

The Indictment No. KT – 6/96 of the Karlovac ŽDO issued on 29 February 1996 charges the 2nd defendant Miroslav Bijelić, the 3rd defendant Savo Padežanin, the 4th defendant Đuro Tepšić and the 5th defendant Rade Bjeloš that on 15 May 1992 in Slunjska Selnica, as members of a paramilitary unit of the then “SAO Krajina” and executing orders issued by their immediate commander Rade Peleša, killed Josip Obranović and thereby committed a war crime against civilians.
GENERAL INFORMATION

Karlovac County Court

Case file number: K-1/04

War Crimes Council: judge Ante Ujević, Council President; judges Jasminka Jerinić Mušnjak and Marijan Janjac, Council Members

Indictment: No. KT-6/96 of 29 February 1996 issued by the Karlovac County State Attorney’s Office (hereinafter. ŽDO)

Prosecution: Zdravko Car, the Karlovac County Deputy State’s Attorney

Criminal act: war crime against civilians under Article 120, paragraph 1 of the Basic Criminal Law of the Republic of Croatia (hereinafter: OKZRH)

Defendants: Miroslav Bijelić, Savo Padežanin, Đuro Tepšić and Rade Bjeloš – tried in absentia

Defence: lawyers Stanislav Rožman (for the defendant Bijelić); Hrvoje Rožman (for the defendant Padežanin); Davor Bartolac (for the defendant Tepšić); Sanda Kličarić (for the defendant Bjeloš)

Victim – killed: Josip Obranović
PREVIOUS CASE HISTORY

The original (1996) trial was conducted against five defendants comprising four aforementioned defendants and the 1st defendant Rade Peleša. Only the 1st defendant was present in that trial. As regards the other four defendants, the trial was conducted in their absence. On 27 November l996, all five defendants were found guilty and sentenced to 10 years in prison each.

In March 1998, the Supreme Court of the Republic of Croatia quashed the first instance verdict. It reasoned it with the fact that a substantive violation of the criminal procedure provisions occurred during the first instance trial – the first instance court, in one of its main hearing sessions, conducted the questioning of witnesses in absence of the defence counsel representing the 2nd to 4th defendants.

The repeated criminal proceedings was conducted only against the defendant Rade Peleša who was present in the trial (i.e. available to the Croatian judiciary). On l6 March l999, he was found guilty and sentenced to 12 years in prison. The Supreme Court later altered the first instance verdict in the sentencing section and thereby it sentenced the defendant Peleša to 10 years in prison. Meanwhile, he completed serving his prison sentence.
TRIAL MONITORING REPORTS

SLUNJSKA SELNICA izvjestaji s rasprave – trial monitoring courts, available in Croatian

 
VERDICT

By the verdict issued by the War Crime Council of the Karlovac County Court on 29 June 2010, the defendants Bijelić, Padežanin and Tepšić were found guilty and sentenced to 10 years of imprisonment each. The defendant Bjeloš was acquitted of all charges.