Crime in Koprivna near Požega


The Požega County Court conducted a re-opened procedure against the absent Bogdan Delić and Stevan Šteković who were sentenced in 1993 in absentia to 8 years in prison for a war crime against civilians. During the re-opened procedure, after the indictment was re-qualified to the criminal act of armed rebellion, the criminal procedure against the aforementioned defendants was terminated.
COURSE OF THE PROCEEDINGS

The indictment issued by the Požega District State’s Attorney’s Office No. KT-81/92 of 25 March 1993, charged the defendants Bogdan Delić and Stevan Šteković that on 29 August 1991, in the morning hours, in the village of Koprivna, Požega Municipality, as members of the so-called “Territorial Defence of SAO Western Slavonija”, during the armed conflict in the north-western part of the Požega Municipality and the Pakrac Municipality, contrary to the provisions of Articles 31 and 34 of the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilians in Time of War, stopped Dubravko Klanfar who was driving his tractor and a trailer on the Striježevica – Milivojevci road, collecting milk. They pointed an automatic rifle to Dubravko Klanfar, searched him and then put him in the trailer and drove him to the village of Cikota. Under threat of weapons, they requested from him data about the Croatian Military and the Croatian Police units, about their deployment and armament. After that, they drove him to the village of Bučje, Pakrac Municipality, where a detention camp was located. They kept him in the camp as hostage for 46 days, until 13 October 1991 when he was exchanged. Dubravko Klanfar was exchanged with several other persons of Croatian ethnicity who were detained in the same or similar manner. They were exchanged for persons deprived of liberty due to criminal acts committed against the Republic of Croatia.

 

Therefore, they were charged that, having violated the rules of the international law during an armed conflict, they took one civilian hostage and unlawfully detained him, whereby they committed a criminal act against humanity and international law – a war crime against civilians, described and punishable pursuant to Article 120, paragraph 1 of the Basic Criminal Law of the RoC (hereinafter: the OKZ RH).

You can read the indictment issued by the Požega District State’s Attorney’s Office No. KT-81/92 of 25 March 1993 here. (in Croatian)

The defendants were tried in absentia.

On 20 May 1993, the Požega District Court passed a verdict No. K-31/93 in which the defendants Bogdan Delić and Stevan Šteković were found guilty that, having violated the rules of the international law during an armed conflict, they took one civilian hostage and unlawfully detained him, whereby they committed a criminal act against civilians referred to in Article 120, paragraph 1 of the OKZ RH. Each defendant was sentenced to 8 years in prison.

You can read the verdict No. K-31/93 issued by the Požega District Court on 20 May 1993 here. (in Croatian)

No appeal was lodged against the aforementioned verdict.

On 9 February 2009, the Požega-Slavonija Police Administration forwarded to the Požega County State’s Attorney’s Office (hereinafter: the ŽDO) a special report No. KU-851/92 and an official note on the performed informative talk with the injured party Dubravko Klanfar.

On 10 February 2009, the Požega ŽDO filed an ex-officio request for re-opening of the procedure because it deemed that the facts mentioned in the aforementioned report and the note permitted the defendants to be sentenced pursuant to a more lenient law.

The ruling of the Extra-trial Chamber of the Požega County Court No. Kv-20/09 of 17 February 2009 permitted the re-opening of the criminal procedure against the defendant Bogdan Delić and the defendant Stevan Šteković pursuant to the provisions of Articles 500 and 501, paragraph 1, item 3 of the Criminal Procedure Act (hereinafter: the ZKP) in relation to Article 504, paragraph 2 of the ZKP.

You can read the ruling of the Extra-trial Chamber of the Požega County Court No. Kv-20/09 of 17 February 2009 here. (in Croatian)

On 9 July 2009, witness Dubravko Klanfar was heard before the Extra-trial Chamber. The Požega ŽDO requested the file to be forwarded to the Požega ŽDO for possible modification of the indictment.

You can read the report from 9 July here. (in Croatian)

After the Požega ŽDO modified the indictment (see the modified indictment) and charged the defendants Bogdan Delić and Stevan Šteković with committing a criminal act of armed rebellion referred to in Article 236f of the Criminal Code of the RoC (hereinafter: the KZ RH), the Požega County Court passed a ruling No. Kv-64/09 of 13 July 2009 in which, pursuant to Article 2, paragraph 2 of the General Amnesty Act, it suspended the criminal procedure against the defendants.

You can read the Ruling on suspension of the procedure. (in Croatian)
GENERAL INFORMATION

Požega County Court

Case number: K-5/09

War Crime Council: Judge Predrag Dragičević, Council President; Judge Tihomir Božić, Council member and Judge Žarko Kralj, Council member

Prosecution: Božena Jurković, Požega County Deputy State’s Attorney

Criminal act: war crime against civilians referred to in Article 120, paragraph 1 of the OKZ RH, after the re-qualification armed rebellion referred to in Article 236f of the KZ RH

Criminal act: Bogdan Delić and Stevan Šteković (in both procedures they were tried in absentia)

Defence counsel: Julka Lučić – Prša, a lawyer practising in Požega, court-appointed defence counsel

Victim: Dubravko Klanfar

 

 

OPINION OF THE MONITORING TEAM FOLLOVING THE CONDUCTED RE-OPENED PROCEDURE
Following the conducted re-opened procedure in which the Požega County State’s Attorney’s Office (hereinafter: the ŽDO) modified the indictment charging the defendants with committing a criminal act of armed rebellion referred to in Article 236 f of the Criminal Code of the RoC (hereinafter: the KZ RH), the Požega County Court passed a ruling No. Kv-64/09 of 13 July 2009 by which, pursuant to Article 2, paragraph 2 of the General Amnesty Act, the criminal procedure against the defendants was terminated.
On 25 March 1993, the Požega ŽDO issued the indictment No. KT-81/92 against the defendants Bogdan Delić and Stevan Šteković for a war crime against civilians referred to in Article 120, paragraph 1 of the Basic Criminal Law of the RoC (hereinafter: the OKZ RH). They were charged that on 29 August 1991 in the village of Koprivna, Požega Municipality, as members of the so-called Territorial Defense of SAO Western Slavonija, during the armed conflict in the north-western part of the Požega Municipality and the Pakrac Municipality, contrary to the provisions of Articles 31 and 34 of the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, they stopped Dubravko Klanfar who was driving his tractor and a trailer on the Striježevica – Milivojevci road, collecting milk. They pointed an automatic rifle at him, searched him and then put him in the trailer and drove him to the village of Cikota. Under threat of weapons, they requested from him data about the Croatian Military and the Croatian Police units, about their deployment and armament. After that, they drove him to the village of Bučje, Pakrac Municipality, where a detention camp was located. They kept him in the camp as hostage for 46 days, until 13 October 1991 when he was exchanged, together with several other persons of Croatian ethnicity who were detained in the same or similar manner, for persons deprived of liberty due to criminal acts committed against the Republic of Croatia.

The Požega County Court accepted the indictment in its entirety. The defendants were charged, inter alia, with keeping the injured party hostage although that claim was not substantiated with evidence. Therefore, the Court needed to request from the prosecution to modify the indictment. The injured party stated already during the investigation that he was driven to Bučje in a van and that, after Bučje, he did not see the defendants any more. Moreover, the defendants were charged with keeping the injured party hostage for 46 days.
On 20 May 1993, the defendants were found guilty and sentenced to eight years in prison each.
The court-appointed defence counsel for both defendants lodged no appeal against the aforementioned verdict and, since the prosecution did not lodge an appeal against it either, the verdict became legally valid on 24 June 1993, upon the expiry of the appellate deadline.

Following the adoption of a new Criminal Procedure Act (Official Gazette 152/08) which rendered it possible for the State Attorney’s Office to request re-opening of procedures in relation to unavailable defendants, the Požega ŽDO filed a request for re-opening of the procedure. It based its request on a special report issued by the Požega-Slavonija Police Administration and an official note on performed informative talk with the injured party Dubravko Klanfar.

The re-opening of the criminal procedure was granted and, after the injured party Dubravko Klanfar was heard before the Extra-trial Chamber, the Požega ŽDO modified the indictment on 10 February. The modified indictment charged the defendants that, as members of the so-called Territorial Defense of SAO Western Slavonija, on 29 August 1991 in the village of Koprivna near Požega, armed with automatic rifles, on the Striježevica – Milivojevci road they stopped a tractor driven by Dubravko Klanfar. Then, under threat of weapons, they ordered Dubravko Klanfar to sit in the tractor trailer, put a backpack over his head and drove him to the village of Cikote where they handed him over to unidentified persons, members of Serb-chetnik formations, who took the injured party to Bučje, whereby they participated in the armed rebellion and committed a criminal act against the Republic of Croatia, armed rebellion referred to in Article 236 f of the KZ RH.

It is evident that this modification of the indictment follows in the footsteps of the State Attorney’s Office strategy of re-examination of validly concluded war crimes procedures, particularly those conducted in the absence of the convicts.

However, in this particular case there is a series of problems.

The provision of Article 501, paragraph 1, item 3 stipulated that a criminal procedure concluded with a legally valid verdict will be re-opened to the benefit of the convicts regardless of the fact whether they were present or not, providing that “new facts or new evidence is presented which, by itself or in relation with previous evidence, might lead to the release of a person who was convicted or for him/her to be sentenced pursuant to a more lenient law”.

There are no new facts contained in the statement of reasons of the request for re-opening of the criminal procedure or in the injured party’s testimony provided before the Extra-trial Chamber in the re-opened procedure. The injured party Dubravko Klanfar testified the same in 1993 and in 2009.