A repeated trial was held before the War Crimes Council of the Bjelovar County Court from 5 to 7 November 2007 (namely, the decision of the Supreme Court No. I Kž 790/04-5 of 12 October 2006 upheld the appeal lodged by the State Attorney and quashed the acquitting first instance verdict and the case was reversed to the first instance court for retrial) against the defendants Stojan Vujić and Dobrivoje Pavković for criminal offence of war crime against war prisoners referred to in Article 122 of the Basic Criminal Law of the Republic of Croatia (hereinafter: the OKZRH), committed in the village of Doljani near Daruvar on 1 September 1991.
The indictment No. K-DO-81/03, dated 5 February 2004, issued by the County State’s Attorney’s Office in Bjelovar and modified at the main hearing held on 7 November 2007, charged the 1st defendant Stojan Vujić and the 2nd defendant Dobrivoje Pavković that on 1 September 1991, in early morning hours, together with a large number of armed members of the Serb paramilitary unit of the so-called “Pakrac Territorial Defense” carried out a mortar attack on the village of Doljani, after which they, divided into several groups, carried out an infantry attack from several directions on Doljani. Having invaded the village, they entered the houses and carried away some of the civilians and village guard members they found there. The 2nd defendant Dobrivoje Pavković hit Vladimir Zimić, a captured member of the village guard, in the back with the automatic rifle butt and shot two burst fires from the rifle on his legs, whereby Mr. Zimić’s left foot was injured. Afterwards, using hand mortars, tromblon mines and rifles, they attacked Miroslav Polenus’ house in the part of the village called “Kopeček” where several members of the Croatian Ministry of the Interior (hereinafter: MUP) and civil guards were located, who were forced to surrender under threat that the forcibly taken Vladimir Zimić would be killed. After they all laid down their weapons and left the house, they were stripped down to their underwear. The captives were then hit with rifle butts and forced to lay on the road with their faces turned down, their hands were tied with wire and, while being tied, they were hit on their entire bodies and heads. Then, tied and helpless captives were shot at from firearms at close range. On that occasion, Vitomir Polenus, Željko Hunjek, Alfons Tutić, Vladimir Zimić and Marijan Polenus sustained severe bodily injuries, while Srećko Manđini, Željko Bublić and Eugen Lapčić sustained multiple severe and life-threatening bodily injuries of which they died, which was all contrary to the provisions of the Geneva Convention Relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War of 12 August 1949,
thus, by acting in such manner, having violated the rules of the International Law, they tortured war prisoners, treated them inhumanely and killed them, whereby they committed a criminal act against humanity and International Law – war crime against war prisoners which is, as such, stipulated and punishable pursuant to Article 122 of the OKZRH.
The trial was held before the War Crimes Council of the Bjelovar County Court comprising: Judge Antonija Bagarić – Council President, Judge Milenka Slivar – Council member and Judge Ivanka Šarko – Council member. The prosecution was represented by Ivan Rahlicki, Bjelovar County Deputy State’s Attorney.
– for the 1st defendant: Momčilo Borčanin, a lawyer practicing in Zagreb, court appointed defense counsel
– for the 2nd defendant: Božica Jakšić, a lawyer practicing in Bjelovar, court appointed defense counsel
Victims: Srećko Manđani, Željko Bublić and Eugen Lapčić (killed); Vitomir Polenus, Željko Hunjek, Alfons Tutić and Vladimir Zimić (sustained severe bodily injuries); Marijan Polenus (sustained bodily injuries)
At the hearing held on 5 November, the proceedings against the defendant Stojan Vujić (this defendant did not approach this hearing) were separated and they will be concluded separately.
On 7 November 2007, after deliberation and voting, the Council pronounced a verdict pursuant to which the defendantDobrivoje Pavković was proclaimed guilty of committing a criminal offence referred to in Article 122 of the OKZRH and sentenced to 15 years in prison.
Pursuant to Article 122, paragraph 1 of the ZKP, the defendant was ordered to compensate the costs of the criminal proceedings and, pursuant to Article 102, paragraph 4 of the ZKP, the defendant was brought into custody.
The defendant Dobrivoje Pavković, who was undetained, did not attend the pronunciation of the verdict.
The Supreme Court of the Republic of Croatia (at a public session held on 14 May 2008) upheld the verdict by the War Crimes Council of the Bjelovar County Court by which the defendantDobrivoje Pavković was sentenced to 15 years in prison.
OPINION OF THE MONITORING TEAM
The repeated criminal proceedings were properly conducted.
Upon the analysis and evaluation of the presented evidence, the Court determined – in reaching the sentencing verdict – that it was proven the defendant had committed the criminal offence with which he was charged. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison. In reaching the verdict, the Court accepted the statements of the two witnesses who had seen and recognized the defendant.
The defendant Pavković attended the main hearing and he was undetained. Immediately before the pronunciation of the verdict, he escaped from Croatia. Thus, he has been declared a fugitive from justice and an international warrant for his arrest has been issued. He has residency in the Republic of Serbia and both Croatian and Serbian citizenships.
In the criminal procedure against the defendant Dobrivoje Pavković for the criminal offence pursuant to Article 122 of the OKZRH, instigated by the indictment number K-DO-81/03 (issued by the Bjelovar County State’s Attorney’s Office on 5 February 2004 and modified at the main hearing on 7 November 2007), the Bjelovar County Court (before the War Crimes Council comprising Judge Antonija Bagarić as the Council President and Milenka Slivar and Ivanka Škaro as Council members), reached a sentencing verdict on 7 November 2007 after the open and concluded main trial in the presence of the Bjelovar County Deputy State’s Attorney Ivan Rahlicki, and the court-appointed defense lawyer Božica Jakšić. The Court adjudicated that the defendant Dobrivoje Pavković had committed the criminal offence of war crime against war prisoners on 1 September 1991 when, according to a joint agreement about this criminal act he had with other armed members of Serbian paramilitary units, he was aware of the torture and inhumane treatment of war prisoners but, in spite of that, he was himself involved in the inhumane treatment of village guard members and Croatian police members, thus injuring Željko Hunjek, Alfons Tutić, Vladimir Zimić and Marjan Polenus and causing the death of Srećko Manđini, Željko Bulić and Eugen Lapčić. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison.
During the original trial, the charges against the first defendant Stojan Vujić and the second defendant Dobrivoje Pavković were dropped in the absence of evidence, pursuant to Article 354, Item 3 of the ZKP. The Supreme Court reversed the case for a retrial, deeming as unacceptable the conclusions of the first instance court on the absence of evidence that the defendants had committed the criminal offence with which they were charged, because those reasons are not of such nature as to dispute the validity of statements primarily given by the witnesses who had seen and recognized both defendants.
The repeated procedure was conducted against the defendant Dobrivoje Pavković, as the criminal procedure against the first defendant Stojan Vujić, who was unavailable, was separated due to the reason of purposefulness.
In the repeated procedure, out of the total of 17 witnesses, the following witnesses testified against the defendant: witness Vladimir Zimić stated he was absolutely certain that the defendant Pavković shot him in the legs on the day in question; witness Mirko Joščak stated that the defendant Pavković was among some 20 members of Serbian paramilitary units who had tied them, and beat them with rifle butts and boots while they were lying on the road; witness Zdravko Joščak stated he had heard from others that the defendant was among the members of Serbian paramilitary units who beat them and abused them. The Court fully accepted the validity of the statements given by witnesses Klimeš, Halupecki, Mlinarić and Ružička, who had disputed the defendant’s alibi by stating that on the day of attack on the village of Doljani, they did not see the defendant Dobrivoje Pavković in the village or by the local grocery store. Namely, during the criminal procedure, not a single piece of evidence was presented that would indicate reasons for any of the witnesses to give false testimonies against the defendant Pavković. Namely, these witnesses stressed in their statements that the village of Doljani was a home to multinational population as a fact that strengthened good relations between the villagers. The statement of the witness Dušanka Pavković helped resolve doubts about some crucial facts in the logical and cognitive sense. Namely, she confirmed having spoken to the defendant on the day when an armored vehicle of MUP drove through the village, which was the day after the crime was committed according to some of the witness statements and the defendant’s presented defense.
The Court explained the grounds on which it had established that the defendant, who had a mutual agreement with other perpetrators about this criminal act, was aware of the torture and inhumane treatment of war prisoners (three of whom were killed) and that the defendant was involved in it himself, acting with intent. Thus he committed a criminal offence against humanity and International Law – war crime against war prisoners.During the main hearing, no violations of provisions of the ZKP were observed. The Council President informed the defendant on his legal rights and duties, presided over the main hearing professionally and with focus, ensured that the case of the procedure was extensively discussed but, at the same time, took care that it was run economically.Likewise, she properly recorded witness statements into the minutes of the court hearing. The time that the defendant had spent in detention from 16 to 19 December 2003 and from 7 November 2007 onwards was calculated into the pronounced sentence.