Crime in Mirkovci and Vukovar

Trials in Croatia

Verdict after appeal

Trial against Mihajlo Sopka, Branko Drča, Milan Paripović, Mile Knežević and Mile Pavković for criminal offence of war crime against prisoners of war, stated in Article 122 of the OKZ RH.

GENERAL DATA ON THE PROCEEDINGS CONDUCTED IN ABSENCE OF THE ACCUSED PERSONS

Osijek County Court

Case No: K-38/95

War Crimes Council (judges’ panel): judge Ružica Šamota, Council President; judge Mira Čavajda, Council member; lay judges Snježana Čarapović, Ante Dumančić and Josip Ciprovac, Council members

Indictment: No: KT-88/94 issued by the Osijek District State Attorney’s Office on 11 April 1995 and 24 October 1995

Criminal offence: war crime against prisoners of war, stated in Article 122 of the OKZ RH.

Accused persons/Defendants: Mihajlo Sopka, Branko Drča, Milan Paripović, Mile Knežević, Mile Pavković and Mile Tešić, tried in absence

Defence Counsel: Slavica Garac, lawyer from Osijek

Victim – physically and mentally abused: Ivica Šitum

 VERDICT (SUMMARY)

Subsequent to the Osijek County Court verdict No:K-30/95-41 dated on 07 October 1996, the accused persons were found guilty of interrogating, physically and mentally abusing the captured member of the reserve corps of the HV (Croatian Army) Ivica Šitum in Mirkovci and Vukovar on 24 May and 25 May 1992. Following his capture near the demarcation line in the vicinity of Vinkovci, Ivica Šitum was interrogated, threatened to be killed and abused by the above named accused persons which all caused Šitum to faint several times during the interrogation due to serious physical injuries and a mental stress which caused considerable post-traumatic reactions.

Each accused person was sentenced to 12 years in prison. The verdict became legally valid and final on 08 March 1997.

GENERAL DATA ON THE REOPENED PROCEEDINGS

Vukovar County Court

Case No: K-14/01

War Crimes Council (judges’ panel): judge Nikola Bešenski, Council President; judge Stjepan Margić, Council member; lay judges Milenko Božičković, Radoslav Šijaković and Stanko Vukojević, Council members

Indictment: No:K-DO-16/01 issued by the Vukovar County State Attorney’s Office, which was actually a part of the indictment No:KT-88/94 issued by the Osijek District State Attorney’s Office on 11 April 1995, which was amended on 07 October 1996 in order to make the indictment – i.e. those parts relating to the accused Paripović and Pavković – more precise.

Criminal offence: war crime against prisoners of war, stated in Article 122 of the OKZ RH.

Accused persons/Defendants: Milan Paripović and Mile Pavković, present at the trial

Defence Counsel: Nediljko Rešetar, lawyer from Osijek

Victim – physically and mentally abused: Ivica Šitum

VERDICT (SUMMARY)

Subsequent to the Vukovar County Court verdict dated on 21 May 2001, the Osijek County Court verdict No:K-30/95 dated on 07 October 1996 which became legally valid and final on 12 February 1997, was partially abolished in respect of the convicted Milan Paripović and Mile Pavković.

The stated verdict remained unchanged in respect of other convicted persons.

The accused Mile Pavković and Milan Paripović were acquitted of charges that they, together with Mile Knežević, on 24 May 1992, in the seat/headquarters of the so-called SAO Krajina (Serb Autonomous Region of Krajina) Militia in Vukovar, had abused the previously captured Ivica Šitum in a way that they had been ordering and allowing other members of Serb paramilitary units, who had happened to be in the headquarters, to physically and mentally abuse Ivica Šitum.

In its judgment No:IKž-531/01-7 dated on 08 November 2005, the Supreme Court of the Republic of Croatia dismissed the appeal lodged by the County State Attorney against a part of the Vukovar County Court verdict No:K-14/01 dated on 21 May 2001 according to which Mile Pavković had been acquitted of all charges, and it (the Supreme Court) upheld the first-instance court verdict pertaining to the acquittal of Mile Pavković. The criminal proceedings against accused Milan Paripović were dismissed since Paripović had deceased in the meantime, and the stated fact had made the appeal – lodged by the County State Attorney against the acquitting section of the verdict pertaining to Paripović – utterly pointless.