(srpski) Prenosimo saopštenje FHP Kosovo: Poništavanje Specijalnog suda – Uskraćivanje pravde žrtvama
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Sorry, this entry is only available in srpski.
On December 25, 2017, the War Crimes Chamber of the Belgrade High Court delivered a judgment acquitting Marko Pauković and Dragan Bajić of charges for war crimes against a civilian population, owing to a lack of evidence. As members of the Military Police of the Sixth Brigade of the Republika Srpska Army, Bajić and Pauković were accused of murdering Hasan Rahić (aged 60), Minka Jusić (aged 70) Munira Hotić (aged 54), Đemila Behar (aged 54) and the then minor Safeta Behar (aged 12), in the town of Kamičak (Ključ municipality, Bosnia and Herzegovina), on October 10, 1992. The Humanitarian Law Center (HLC) notes that this is only the third verdict for war crimes cases that has been brought in Serbia in 2017; like the previous two, it is acquitting. In March, the Court of Appeal acquitted Goran Šinik of the murder of civilians in Gradiška (BiH) in 1992; and in April, Neđeljko Sovilj and Rajko Vekić were acquitted of the murder of civilians in the municipality of Bosanski Petrovac (BiH) in December 1992.
The Basic Public Prosecutor’s Office in Stara Pazova has filed misdemeanour charges against nine activists of the Youth Initiative for Human Rights over the incident that happened on January 17 2017 in the Vojvodina village of Beška. The activists interrupted a forum hosted by the Srpska napredna stranka (Serbian Progressive Party) as a sign of protest, because one of the speakers was the convicted war criminal Veselin Šljivančanin. They were forcibly expelled from the auditorium, beaten and injured. The Humanitarian Law Center believes that the decision of the Prosecutor’s Office in Stara Pazova to initiate legal action against the attacked activists is an indicator that state institutions are siding with war criminals and charging those who take a stand to oppose them.
On Tuesday, November 28, 2017, the Humanitarian Law Center (HLC) filed a constitutional complaint on behalf of the victims in the Trnje Case for violation of their right to a trial within a reasonable time. This case is being processed before the War Crimes Department of the High Court in Belgrade. The trial in this case was from the beginning obstructed by the accused, who continued with impunity, and during the four years since the indictment was issued, only nine trial days have been held. The HLC considers this case to be a paradigm of war crimes trials in Serbia: all accused persons defend themselves undetained; hearings are scheduled with monthly intervals; a strategy of the defense has for its aim the constant delay of hearings, which is being tolerated; and the few victims who monitor trials believing that they may see justice, are being ignored and humiliated.
On Friday, November 24, 2017, the Humanitarian Law Center (HLC), on behalf of the victims, filed an objection to the Office of the War Crimes Prosecutor’s (OWCP) decision not to prosecute General Dragan Živanović, the former commander of the 125th Motorized Brigade of the Army of Yugoslavia (125th mtbr VJ). The OWCP rendered this decision on March 1, 2017, and, contrary to the law, did not deliver it to the legal representative of the victims; however, the very next day, the prosecutor, Dragoljub Stanković, who conducted the investigation, informed Živanović and his defense attorney regarding the decision. The decision to drop the only investigation against a high-ranking officer of the VJ in secret, and thus to subvert the victims’ right to react in a timely manner, clearly shows that the OWCP, contrary to the obligations accompanying its process of EU integration, does not intend to abandon its habitual practice of guaranteeing impunity for high-ranking persons in the military, police and political structures.
On 22 November 2017, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague pronounced the first-instance judgment against Ratko Mladic, former commander of the Republika Srpska Army (VRS), sentencing him to life imprisonment. The Humanitarian Law Center (HLC) considers that the facts established, the findings of responsibility and the evidence presented encompass the judicial truth about the genocide in Srebrenica and other crimes committed during the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH). The findings of the judgment and the extensive documentation collected during the proceedings now represent valuable potential for a final and decisive step toward reconciliation and dealing with the past.
On November 21, 2017, the Humanitarian Law Center (HLC) filed a criminal complaint with the Serbian War Crimes Prosecutor (WCP) against six identified and several unidentified members of the Yugoslav People’s Army (JNA) and Territorial Defense Unit (TO), for the killings of 48 Croatian civilians in the villages of Skabrnja and Nadin (Croatia) in November 1991.
Namely, on November 18, 1991, together with the Benkovac TO, the JNA entered the village of Skabrnja in the municipality of Zadar. After entering the village, they destroyed the Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary. After that, 41 Croat civilians were killed in various locations in Skabrnja. The next day, in the nearby Nadin, seven more civilians were killed.
The killings at both locations were conducted to the same pattern: civilians who were found in their houses were brought outside with curses and insults, where JNA and TO members killed them from close-up. Most of the victims were elderly persons, among them 16 women, one of whom was disabled.
Milan Martic, the then Minister of the Interior of the Serb Autonomous District of Krajina (SAO Krajina), and Milan Babic, the then President of the SAO Krajina, were sentenced to several years in prison for crimes committed in the villages of Skabrnja and Nadin, before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. Before the courts in Serbia, however, not one JNA or TO member has been found responsible for these crimes.
In response to a request from the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN) to provide a copy of the indictment against 11 people for helping hide the then fugitive Ratko Mladic, the First Basic Public Prosecutor’s Office responded that the indictment had been declared a state secret and that the public could not be informed. The Humanitarian Law Center (HLC) considers that the decision to proclaim this document a state secret is illegal, and aimed at concealing the role of state organs in hiding war crimes indictees.
On Sunday, October 22nd it will be exactly 25 years since the kidnapping and murder of 17 Serbian citizens of Bosniak ethnicity near Sjeverin, in the Priboj municipality. The Humanitarian Law Center (HLC) and the Sandzak Committee for the Protection of Human Rights and Freedoms (Sandzak Committee) reiterate that the Serbian authorities, even after 25 years, have not undertaken any action to fulfill their moral and legal obligations towards the victims’ families, neither in terms of finding the victims’ mortal remains, nor in providing a fair compensation.
One year after it rejected the application of former detainees from the Šljivovica and Mitrovo Polje camps, the European Court of Human Rights issued a decision on October 19 2017 declaring the second application, submitted on behalf of family members of the killed camp detainees, inadmissible. The Humanitarian Law Center (HLC), which represented the victims’ families in these proceedings, points out that the European Court re-used the same, factually unsustainable structure of reasoning in order to transfer the responsibility for the inactivity of war crimes prosecutions from the state to the victims themselves.