On the occasion of the judgement of the Higher Court in Belgrade in the case against Ranka Tomić

On the occasion of the judgement of the Higher Court in Belgrade in the case against Ranka Tomić

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On November 26, 2018, the War Crimes Chamber of the Belgrade Higher Court issued a judgment finding Ranka Tomić, the leader of the “Petrovac Women’s Front” unit which was under the command of the Petrovac Brigade of the Republika Srpska Army (VRS), together with other members of the unit she was captain of, guilty of the torture and inhumane treatment of the war prisoner Karmena Kamenčić in mid-July 1992 in the village of Radić (Bosanska Krupa), and sentenced her to five years in prison. The Humanitarian Law Center (HLC) considers that the court rendered the right decision by convicting Ranka Tomić, but found that the sentence imposed was too mild, bearing in mind the manner in which Karmena Kamenčić was tortured and later killed.

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On the occasion of the judgement of the High Court in Belgrade in the Case against Milanko Dević

On the occasion of the judgement of the High Court in Belgrade in the Case against Milanko Dević

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On November 13, 2018, the War Crimes Chamber of the High Court in Belgrade issued a judgement, pronouncing a member of the Republika Srpska Army (VRS), Milanko Dević, guilty of the murder of a Bosniak civilian in the hamlet of Šljivari (village of Donja Sanica, Ključ municipality, Bosnia and Herzegovina), and sentenced him to seven years in prison. The Humanitarian Law Center (HLC) considers that the court made the right decision by convicting Dević, pointing out that this was the first convicting judgment for a war crime brought by the High Court in a regular trial in the last two years.

In the second half of July 1992, members of the VRS – Milanko Dević, Bogdan Šobot and another unknown soldier – came to the house of Ismet Šljivar, located in the hamlet of Šljivar in the village of Donja Sanica (Ključ municipality, BiH). After their entering his house, Šljivar was taken out at the point of a gun, and then taken to the place known as “Božin Mill”, where he was killed and his body thrown into the River Sanica. In 2018, Bogdan Šobot was sentenced to six years in prison by the Cantonal Court in Bihać for this murder.

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After three and a half years, the Belgrade Court of Appeal has confirmed the indictment for the crime committed in Štrpci

After three and a half years, the Belgrade Court of Appeal has confirmed the indictment for the crime committed in Štrpci

Afstrpci-thumbter three and a half years, the Belgrade Court of Appeal has finally confirmed the indictment of the Office of the War Crimes Prosecutor (OWCP) against five members of the Višegrad Brigade of the Republika Srpska Army (VRS) for the crime committed in Štrpci. In this crime, 20 non-Serb civilians were kidnapped from a train travelling from Belgrade to Bar, and later killed. The Humanitarian Law Center (HLC) urges the institutions of Serbia to approach the processing of this crime seriously and responsibly, and without any delay, and thereby restore the trust of the victims and public in the institutions responsible for the prosecution of war crimes.

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Sjeverin, 26 years later: the search for truth, justice and recognition continues

Sjeverin, 26 years later: the search for truth, justice and recognition continues

sjeverin-thumbToday we mark the 26th anniversary of the abduction and killing of 17 citizens of Serbia of Bosniak nationality from Sjeverin near Priboj, who were taken captive by members of the Republika Srpska Army (VRS) during the conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH). The Humanitarian Law Center (HLC), the Sandžak Committee for the Protection of Human Rights and Freedoms (Sandžak Committee) and Women in Black wish to remind the public that the long-standing search by the families for the mortal remains of the victims has not yet ended, and that it is unacceptable that the institutions of Serbia, even after 26 years, still persist in refusing to provide victims’ families with fair compensation, support and recognition.

On October 22nd 1992, members of the “Osvetnici” (“Avengers”; text available in Serbian), a paramilitary unit which operated under the auspices of the Republika Srpska Army, stopped a bus of the Užice-based company “Raketa” near the bridge over the River Lim in Mioče (BiH). The bus was travelling on its usual Priboj-Rudo-Priboj route. After the identities of every passenger had been checked, 16 Bosniaks were taken out of the bus: Mehmed Šebo, Zafer Hadžić, Medo Hodžić, Medredin Hodžić, Ramiz Begović, Derviš Softić, Mithad Softić, Mujo Alihodžić, Alija Mandal, Sead Pecikoza, Mustafa Bajramović, Hajrudin Sajtarević, Esad Džihić, Idriz Gibović, Ramahudin Ćatović and Mevlida Koldžić. They were taken by military truck in the direction of Višegrad, where they were brutally beaten, and then killed on the banks of the River Drina. The night before this event, Sabahudin Ćatović was abducted in front of his family house in Sjeverin. He has disappeared without a trace.

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Marking the 27th anniversary of the crime in Lovas

Marking the 27th anniversary of the crime in Lovas

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October 18, 2018, will be 27th anniversary of the crime committed in the village of Lovas (Croatia), when around 70 people from Lovas, mostly of Croatian nationality, were killed in October and November 1991. For this crime, a criminal proceeding has been conducted before the domestic courts for more than 10 years, which has not been finalized to this day. The Humanitarian Law Center (HLC) points out that the unreasonably long duration of this procedure has, for the families of the victims, created distrust in the institutions of Serbia, and doubts that they will ever be able to receive justice for the suffering they have endured.

On October 10, 1991, an artillery attack on Lovas began at the orders (available in Serbian) of the Commander of the Second Proletarian Elite Motorized Brigade of the Yugoslav People’s Army (JNA 2nd PEMBR), Dušan Lončar. In the following month, until mid-November 1991, members of the Serbian forces – including members of the civilian government, the Territorial Defense (TO), the Tovarnik militia and the “Dušan Silni” volunteer unit, killed about 70 inhabitants of Lovas at various places in the village; at the same time, most of the houses were looted and set on fire. The most massive crime was committed on October 18, 1991, when members of the TO and the “Dušan Silni” unit, forced 51 persons from Lovas to clean the local minefield from the mines previously set up by the JNA, using them as a live shield. From the mine explosions, about 20 people were killed, while the majority were wounded.


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On the occasion of the retirement of Ljubiša Diković, the Chief of General Staff of the Serbian Armed Forces

On the occasion of the retirement of Ljubiša Diković, the Chief of General Staff of the Serbian Armed Forces

dikovic_penzija-tanjugAfter Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić has accepted a request for retirement by the Chief of General Staff of the Serbian Armed Forces, Ljubiša Diković, on Friday, September 14, 2018, the Humanitarian Law Center (HLC) reaffirms its belief that Diković should have been replaced earlier, since the HLC submitted serious allegations that the 37th Motorized Brigade of the Yugoslav Army (37th Mtbr VJ), commanded by Diković during the Kosovo conflict, killed about 1,400 Albanian civilians, while thousands of others were expelled. Only two days after the HLC published its Dossier “The Ljubiša Diković File”, the War Crimes Prosecutor’s Office (OWCP) informed the public that it had investigated the HLC’s allegations and found no basis for accusations of Diković’s criminal responsibility. Since it was not realistic that the findings from the Dossier could have been be investigated in just two days, the HLC demanded from the OWCP that it proceed with a comprehensive investigation into the allegations regarding Diković’s responsibility for the said crimes.

The HLC has described the operations of the 37th Mtbr in two Dossiers – “ Ljubiša Diković” and “Rudnica”, in which evidence was provided concerning the killing, rape, robbery and expulsion of Albanian civilians in 10 different locations (Staro Čikatovo, Ćirez, Baks, Izbica, Šavarine, Vrbovac, Donja Sudimlja, Rezala, Donji Zabelj, Gladno Selo) – crimes that were committed during the Kosovo conflict. To this day, the OWCP has not filed an indictment for any of these crimes, and the HLC has no data on whether the OWCP has initiated investigations into these crimes.

Awarding him the Order of Karađorđe’s Star – 1st class, while also bearing in mind the claims of the President of Serbia that Diković was an honourable and committed officer, and his always taking Diković’s side when “they falsely accused him and wanted to put a seal of shame on his forehead”, represents an insult to all victims of the conflict in Kosovo, and a slight to their sufferings. The intention was to reduce the extent of the crimes committed, which were confirmed in the two judgments of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (the Šainović and al. and Vlastimir Djordjević Cases).

The HLC points out that the OWCP’s obligation is to investigate all allegations of potential perpetrators of war crimes, and that Ljubiša Diković, as the former commander of the unit that participated in the conflict in Kosovo, must in no way be an exception to that OWCP obligation.

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With regard to the Judgment by which the Republic of Serbia is obliged to pay compensatory damages to the Bogujevci sisters

With regard to the Judgment by which the Republic of Serbia is obliged to pay compensatory damages to the Bogujevci sisters

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On June 7, 2018, the High Court in Belgrade issued a judgment, obliging the Republic of Serbia (RS) to pay compensation for non-pecuniary damages to the total amount of 3.050.000 Serbian dinars (RSD), to the sisters Saranda, Jehona and Lirie Bogujevci (Sisters Bogujevci), severely wounded in the crime committed by the “Scorpions” unit in Podujevo on March 28, 1999. The Humanitarian Law Center (HLC) considers that the trial in this case lasted for an intolerable length of time, and that the amount of compensation awarded was inadequate in relation to the serious injuries sustained by the sisters Bogujevci in this crime. On 28 August 2018, with the HLC’s support, the Sisters Bogujevci filed an appeal with the Appellate Court in Belgrade, within the statutory deadline of 15 days after the judgment was received.

On March 28, 1999, members of the “Scorpions” unit shot and killed 14 Albanian civilians in the Gashi family’s backyard in Podujevo – seven children aged two to 15, and seven women. Five children from the Bogujevci family – Saranda, Lirie, Jehona, Genc and Fatos – survived the shooting, although severely wounded.  For this crime, five members of the “Scorpions” unit were sentenced to multiple years of imprisonment before a domestic court. The “Scorpions” unit was part of the Special Anti-Terrorist Unit of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Serbia (MUP), and according to the Law on Obligations, the Republic of Serbia was responsible for the damage that its state authorities (in this case the MUP) did in the course of its work.

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23 years since the genocide in Srebrenica – State of Serbia to end prolongation of court proceedings and cease to undermine and reduce the crime

23 years since the genocide in Srebrenica – State of Serbia to end prolongation of court proceedings and cease to undermine and reduce the crime

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On July 11, 2018, it will be 23 years since the genocide was committed in Srebrenica, when members of the Republika Srpska Army (VRS) killed almost 8,000 Bosniaks. Although in several judgments of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia it was determined that it was genocide committed in Srebrenica, the authorities in Serbia still continue to refuse to accept this fact, arguing that “it is unacceptable that the Serbs are declared genocidal and evil every July“. The Humanitarian Law Center (HLC) believes that after 23 years it is necessary for the Serbian government to act in a politically mature manner and accept the facts established by the court; and that the state organs involved in the proceedings currently pending before the domestic courts cease with their prolongations, in order to restore dignity to the victims and accord them acknowledgement of their suffering for the loss of their loved ones.

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