Crime in Petrinja

Repeated trial against the defendant Jovo Begović for a war crime against civilians – described and punishable pursuant to Article 120, paragraph 1 of the Basic Criminal Law of the Republic of Croatia (hereinafter: the OKZ RH), was conducted before the War Crimes Council of the Sisak County Court.

The first criminal procedure against Jovo Begović was conducted before the Sisak District Court. The verdict No. K-10/93 of 27 April 1993 was passed, in which the defendant was found guilty and sentenced to 20 years in prison. He was arrested in Germany and, on the basis of an Interpol arrest warrant, extradited to the Republic of Croatia. He filed a request for re-opening of the procedure. The Extra-Trail Chamber of the Sisak County Court, at the session held on 17 March 2006, passed the Ruling No. Kv-53/06, which granted Jovo Begović’s request for re-opening of the criminal procedure, quashed the verdict and reversed the case to the investigation stage.

On 21 July 2006, the Sisak County State’s Attorney’s Office (hereinafter: the ŽDO) issued the indictment No. K-DO-12/06 against the defendant Jovo Begović for a war crime committed against civilians in Petrinja on 2, 16 and 21 September 1991.

INDICTMENT (SUMMARY)

On 21 July 2006, the Sisak County State’s Attorney’s Office issued the indictment No. K-DO-12/06 against the defendant Jovo Begović. The defendant is charged that on 2, 16 and 21 September 1991 in Petrinja, during the artillery attacks on Petrinja commanded by Slobodan Tarbuk, commander of the 622nd motorized JNA brigade, in the capacity of commander of the 1st division of 82 mm mortars which was a part of the 1st motorized battalion of the 622nd motorized JNA brigade located at the polygon of the “Vasilj Gaćeša” military barracks in the area of Gavrilović Kosa, although aware that there were no HV units or other military units that could attack the military barracks in Petrinja, nor there were military units that could defend the town of Petrinja against attacks, the defendant, having received the order by the mortar squad commander Đuro Samardžija to attack the town of Petrinja and its civilian population, complied to that order. Thus, contrary to the provisions of Article 3 of the Geneva Convention from 12 August 1949 relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in the Time of War and Article 51 of the 2nd Protocol Additional to the Geneva Convention, the defendant issued the order to mortar operators in the composition of his division to open fire at civilian population in the town of Petrinja and at the housing, utility and other important facilities in Petrinja. His subordinate soldiers carried out his order and several inhabitants of Petrinja were killed during the attacks. The following persons were killed: Nikola Lokner, Štef Bučar, Đuro Marković, Milan Klarić and Alojz Mouča. The following persons sustained severe and light physical injuries: Ramiz Halerić, Rajko Đurinčić, Mirko Bunjan, Angelina Banadinović, Nikola Drakulić, Đuro Vujatović, Rajko Vujaković, Branko Ceković, Ljubica Ceković, Janko Kovačević, Marijan Popović, Zvonko Dumbović, Ivan Vidović and others. During those attacks, several housing, utility, religious and other facilities in the town of Petrinja were devastated and destroyed, including almost all housing buildings in the centre of Petrinja, the Petrinja Municipal Court, the “Saint Katarina’s” church, the “Saint Lovro’s” church and other facilities.

The defendant is charged that, having violated the rules of the international law at the time of an armed conflict, he killed civilians whereby he committed a criminal act against humanity and international law – a war crime against civilians, described and punishable in Article 120, paragraph 1 of the OKZ RH.

During the repeated procedure, the factual description of the indictment was modified on two occasions on 23 April 2007. The modified indictment charged the defendant that on 2 September 1991, in the capacity of a mortar operator, having received the order by the mortar squad commander Đuro Samardžija to attack Petrinja and its civilian population, he complied to that order which resulted in the death of Štef Bučar, injuries to several persons and destruction of several housing, utility, religious and other facilities in the town of Petrinja, including almost all housing buildings in the centre of Petrinja, the Petrinja Municipal Court, the “Saint Katarina’s” church, the “Saint Lovro’s” church and other facilities.
MONITORING REPORTS

The procedure was conducted before the War Crimes Council comprising: Judge Melita Avedić, Council President, Judge Višnja Vukić, Council member, Judge Danko Kovač, Council member.

The first two hearings were held on 1 December 2006 and 19 December 2006. The evidence procedure was completed on 23 April 2007.

A monitoring report is contained in the following document:

 

VERDICT

On 25 April 2007, the defendant Jovo Begović was found guilty and sentenced to 5 years in prison.

The Supreme Court of the Republic of Croatia (at the public session held on 30 January 2008) upheld the verdict of the Sisak County Court in which the defendant Begović was found guilty and sentenced to 5 (five) years in prison.