Crime in Glina

On 20 May 2009, the War Crimes Council of the Sisak County Court, in the re-opened procedure against the absent defendants Dragan Roksandić and Milan Korač, after the Sisak County State’s Attorney’s Office (hereinafter: the ŽDO) modified the indictment no longer charging the defendants with committing a war crime against civilians but with the criminal act of armed rebellion, passed the verdict which annulled the legally valid verdict of the Sisak District Court No. K-21/93 of 26 May 1993 in which both defendants were found guilty and sentenced to 20 years in prison and, pursuant to the General Amnesty Act, it rejected the indictment.

COURSE OF THE PROCEDURE

The indictment issued by the Sisak ŽDO No. KT-175/92 of 14 April 1993 charged the 1st defendant Dragan Roksandić as Secretary of the Glina Municipality and the 2nd defendant Milan Korač as President of the Glina Municipality Executive Board that, during 1991 and 1992, they committed a war crime against civilians referred to in Article 120, paragraph 1 of the Basic Criminal Law of the RoC (hereinafter: the OKZ RH).

The defendants were tried in absentia.

On 26 May 1993, the Sisak District Court pronounced a verdict in which the defendants Roksandić and Korač were found guilty and sentenced to 20 years in prison each.

You can see the verdict of the Sisak District Court No. K-21/93 of 26 May 1993 here (PDF, 936 KB). (in Croatian)

On 4 March 2009, the Sisak ŽDO filed a request for re-opening of the criminal proceedings No. KT-175/92 on the basis of new evidence.

You can see the request for re-opening of the criminal proceedings filed by the Sisak ŽDO No. KT-175/92 of 4 March 2009 here (PDF 831 KB). (in Croatian)

On 9 March 2009, the Extra-trial Chamber of the Sisak County Court accepted the request for re-opening of the proceedings filed by the Sisak ŽDO.

You can see the ruling of the Extra-trial Chamber here (PDF 233 KB). (in Croatian)

The main hearing was held on 20 May 2009 in the defendants’ absence.

You can see the report from the main hearing held on 20 May 2009 here. (in Croatian)

Following the conducted evidence procedure and after the prosecuting attorney modified the factual and legal description of the act and its legal qualification, no longer charging the defendants with committing a war crime against civilians but with the criminal act of armed rebellion, the Council passed a verdict which annulled the legally valid verdict of the Sisak District Court No. K-21/93 of 26 May 1993 in its entirety and, pursuant to the General Amnesty Act, it rejected the indictment issued against the defendants Dragan Roksandić and Milan Korač.

You can see the verdict of the Sisak County Court dated 20 May 2009 here (PDF, 741 KB). (in Croatian)

 

OPINION

In May 2009, the War Crimes Council of the Sisak County Court, in the re-opened proceedings against the absent defendants Dragan Roksandić and Milan Korać, after the Sisak ŽDO modified the indictment no longer charging the defendants with committing a war crime against civilians but with the criminal act of armed rebellion, passed a verdict which annulled the legally binding verdict of the Sisak District Court No. K-21/93 of 26 May 1993, in which both defendants were found guilty and sentenced to 20 years in prison. Also, pursuant to the General Amnesty Act, it rejected the indictment.

The War Crimes Council of the Sisak County Court conducted properly the criminal procedure in this case, except for one omission that we learned from Dušanka Nenadović court appointed defence counsel of the defendant Korać.

Namely, as was stated by the defence counsel, she did not receive a decision designating her as court appointed defence counsel. She only received summons for the main hearing. Thus, she concluded that this was the case of mandatory defence representation.

But, given the fact that the indictment was later modified and the charges were rejected, no serious consequences were caused by the described omission.

Explanation

On 26 May 1993, the Sisak District Court reached a verdict No. K-21/93 wherein it found the absent defendants Roksandić and Korać guilty of committing a war crime against civilians pursuant to Article 120, paragraph 1 of the OKZRH. They were found guilty because, by acting in capacity as the Glina municipality secretary (the defendant Roksandić) and as the Glina municipality Executive Board President (the defendant Korać), in agreement with the Glina municipality President Dušan Jović, during 1991 and 1992 in Glina, with the purpose to undermine and subvert a newly-established democratic society in Croatia, they formed a headquarters in the village Šibine near Glina. There they planned and co-ordinated armed actions of unlawful chetnik units, issued the attack order on the Glina Police Station, issued orders to alienate movable property, destroy movable and immovable property and farming facilities owned by the Croatian ethnicity inhabitants, depriving of liberty a larger number of Croatian nationality members, who were physically and mentally harassed. As a result, Stjepan Šmicl, Ivan Palarić and Ivan Gregurić died of sustained injuries in prison. Each defendant was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Since no complaint was lodged against the mentioned verdict, the verdict became legally binding upon the deadline expiry for lodging a complaint. [1]

This occurred despite the fact that the court appointed defence counsel was obliged to represent the defendant until the verdict becomes legally binding – therefore to lodge a complaint in respect of the verdict.

On 4 March 2009, the Sisak ŽDO filed a request for re-opening the criminal proceedings.

It reasoned its request with new facts and evidence contained in the file of the Investigation Department of the Sisak County Court No. Kio-25/07, against the defendant Dušan Jović at al. for criminal acts of war crime against civilians and war crime against war prisoners, stating that the functions of secretary and president of the Glina Municipality Executive Board were not the functions which would enable issuing of orders, which Roksandić and Korać were sentenced for.

It was stipulated that evident from the file no. Kio-25/07 was that authorisations for issuing orders were under the competence of the defendant Dušan Jović, in the capacity as the War Presidency president and commander of the Regional Headquarters of the Banija and Kordun Territorial Defence (hereinafter: TO), and the leading men of TO and JNA in Glina Stanko Divjakinja, Vlado Ćupović and Marko Vrcelj, who are under investigation procedure. Also evident from collected evident was that the mentioned persons belonged to the chain of command of the units, the members of which committed crimes in the Glina area.

It was pointed out that inspection of the Investigation Department of the Sisak County Court file no. Kio-27/02 represents new evidence. This file reveals that a total of 30 witnesses – camp detainees stated that Mile Paspalj, the TO commander assistant for moral-political work. Not a single witness indicated Dragan Roksandić and Milan Korać.

It was also mentioned in the request that certain individual actions which, pursuant to the verdict, legally qualify under a war crime against civilians do not even present the characteristics of this act, but the characteristics of an armed rebellion (the headquarters formation, planning and co-ordinating armed actions, ordering attack on the Glina Police Station).

With the Decision of the Sisak County Court’s Extra-trial Chamber no. Kv-54/09 of 9 March 2009, the request for re-opening of criminal proceedings was accepted and the proceedings was reversed back to the main hearing stage.

In the re-opened trial, all previously exhibited evidence was read. The Sisak ŽDO stated that, until the hearing in a re-opened trial, no new facts or evidence were collected which would be charging the defendants with a crime as indicted earlier (the indictment no. KT-175/92 of 14 April 1993) He partially altered the factual description, legal description an legal qualification of the offence in the manner that he was pressing charges against the defendants charging them for an armed rebellion.

The Council reached and pronounced a verdict that quashed the legally binding verdict of the Sisak District Court No. K-21/93 of 26 May 1993 in its entirety and, pursuant to Article 353, item 6 of the Criminal Procedure Act, regarding Article 2, paragraph 2 of the General Amnesty Act rejected the indictment.

[1] Although we did not look into the court file, it is evident from the Request for a re-opening of the criminal proceedings by the Sisak ŽDO No. KT-175/92 of 4 March 2009 and the Decision on re-opening of the trial by extra-trial chamber of the Sisak County Court No. Kv-54/09 of 9 March 2009 that the trial was concluded with the verdict of the Sisak District Court No. K-21/93 of 26 May 1993.