Three Decades since the Crime in Ovčara – We Remember the Victims
Saturday, November 20, 2021, marks the 30th anniversary of the crime committed on the Ovčara farm near Vukovar, when members of the local Territorial Defence (TO) and Serb volunteers under the command of the Yugoslav People’s Army (JNA) killed 265 Croatian civilians and prisoners of war. On this occasion, the Humanitarian Law Center (HLC) reminds of the court-established facts about the crime in Ovčara and calls on the state institutions to pay tribute to the victims.
Immediately after seizing Vukovar, on November 20, 1991, JNA members took the injured, ill, civilians and members of the Croatian Armed Forces from the Vukovar hospital and took them to hangars on the Ovčara farm, about five kilometres southeast of Vukovar. From the moment they were brought to Ovčara, members of the Vukovar TO and the “Leva Supoderica” unit, composed mainly of volunteers from the Serbian Radical Party, beat, humiliated and abused detained Croats, all in the presence of members of the JNA Military Police. In the evening, members of the JNA withdrew from Ovčara following the orders of Colonel Mile Mrkšić. Members of the Vukovar TO and the “Leva Supoderica” volunteer unit took detainees out of the hangar during the night between November 20 and 21, 1991 and took them in groups of 10 to 20 people toward Grabovo. There, they were shot standing in front of a previously prepared mass grave. In Ovčara, besides wounded members of the Croatian armed forces, civilians, women and children were killed: Ružica Markobašić (32), who was in the late pregnancy at the time, Janja Podhorski (60), Dragutin Balog (17) and Igor Kačić (16).
200 bodies were exhumed from the mass grave at the Grabovo site, and 193 victims were identified. Seventeen bodies of the victims were found in the surrounding graves, while the bodies of dozens of victims are still being searched for.