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

I_presuda_o_odgovornosti_drzave

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

Srebrenica

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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19 years since the murder of Bytyqi brothers – The perpetrators are stronger than the rule of law

19 years since the murder of Bytyqi brothers – The perpetrators are stronger than the rule of law

Petrovo Selo1

On 9 July 2018, 19 years will have passed since the murder of brothers Mehmet (21), Agron (23) and Ylli (25) Bytyqi, committed by members of the Serbian Ministry of the Interior (MUP). The nearly two decades of the continuous failure of the investigations undertaken by the Office of the War Crimes Prosecutor (OWCP) and the MUP to clarify the killings of Mehmet, Ylli and Agron, suggest that the perpetrators of these crimes from the 1990s remain stronger than the institutions and the rule of law, and that justice in Serbia continues to be selective, and those responsible for the execution of the Bytyqi brothers above the law.

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”Sima’s Chetniks“ acquitted of murder of Roma Civilians in Skočić

”Sima’s Chetniks“ acquitted of murder of Roma Civilians in Skočić

Skočić

Deciding upon appeal, the Court of Appeal in Belgrade confirmed the judgment of acquittal rendered in the case of members of the „Sima’s Chetniks“ unit, who were charged with the destruction of a mosque and murder of 27 Roma civilians in the village of Skočić (Zvornik, Bosnia and Herzegovina), crimes committed in July 1992; whilst the court modified the judgment in the case of the accused Zoran Alić, Zoran Đurđević and Tomislav Gavrić, and found them guilty of inhuman treatment, violation of physical integrity, sexual humiliation and rape of protected witnesses. Tomislav Gavrić and Zoran Đurđević were sentenced to 10 years in prison each, whereas Zoran Alić was sentenced to 6 years of imprisonment. The HLC holds that the Court of Appeal additionally aggravated the process of proving co-perpetration in cases of war crimes with the judgment at issue, by putting almost impossible conditions before the Office of the War Crimes Prosecutor (OWCP), which it has to meet in the prosecution of complex cases of war crimes.

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(srpski) Prenosimo izvestaj FHP Kosovo: Bivši srpski policajac oslobođen optužbi za ratne zločine po jednoj od optužnica

(srpski) Prenosimo izvestaj FHP Kosovo: Bivši srpski policajac oslobođen optužbi za ratne zločine po jednoj od optužnica

Sorry, this entry is only available in Shqip and srpski.

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Saša Cvjetan, convicted for murder of women and children in Podujevo, set free before sentence expires

Saša Cvjetan, convicted for murder of women and children in Podujevo, set free before sentence expires

Bogujevci-Deca

On March 8, 2018, the Higher Court in Belgrade issued a decision to release Saša Cvjetan, a former member of the „Scorpions” police unit, sentenced to twenty years in prison for killing fourteen Albanian civilians in Podujevo in March 1999. He has served over two thirds of the sentence to which he was convicted. The Humanitarian Law Center (HLC) points out that, with the Higher Court granting Cvjetan’s request to be released early from prison, the sentence to which he was convicted for grave crimes committed against civilians loses its meaning, and the victims’ sufferings are being neglected.

On March 28, 1999, members of the Serbian police unit known as the “Scorpions”, among them Cvjetan, in the Gashi family yard in Podujevo shot fourteen Albanian civilians – seven children aged from two to fifteen, and seven women: Shpetim Bogujevci (10), Shpend Bogujevci (13), Sala Bogujevci (39), Nora Bogujevci (15), Shefkate Bogujevci (43), Shehide Bogujevci (67), Nefise Bogujevci Llugaliu (54), Fezdrije Llugialiu (21), Dafina Duriqi (9), Arber Duriqi (7), Mimoze Duriqi (4), Albin Duriqi (2), Fitnete Duriqi (36) and Isma Duriqi (69). Five children who survived the shooting suffered serious injuries – Saranda, Fatos, Jehona, Lirije and Genc Bogujevci.

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With Appeal Judgment on Vojislav Šešelj, Justice is Partially Achieved

With Appeal Judgment on Vojislav Šešelj, Justice is Partially Achieved

hrtkovci

On April 11 2018, the Appeals Chamber of the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals (MICT) in The Hague passed sentence with its final verdict on the President of the Serbian Radical Party (SRS), Vojislav Šešelj, and reversed his acquittal by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia Trial Chamber,  sentencing him to 10 years of imprisonment for encouraging persecution (forced displacement), deportation, and other inhumane acts (forcible transfer), as  crimes against humanity, and for committing persecutions in Hrtkovci in Vojvodina (violations of the right to security) as a crime against humanity. The Humanitarian Law Center (HLC) considers such a judgement  significant, since in this way the victims of deportation and persecution in Hrtkovci almost 26 years ago have received  judicial satisfaction; however, justice has only been partially satisfied, given the scope of the indictment against Šešelj, which encompasses the area of Sarajevo, as well as the municipalities of Zvornik, Nevesinje and Mostar in BiH, and Vukovar in Croatia.

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