On September 19th, 2012, a trial chamber at the Higher Court in Belgrade – War Crimes Department, presided over by Judge Snežana Nikolić-Garotić, rendered a guilty verdict sentencing Samet Hajdari to 15 years of imprisonment, Ahmet and Nazif Hasani to 13 years each, Agush Memishi, Burim Fazliu, and Selimon Sadiku to 12 years each, Faton Hajdari to 10 years, Kamber Sahiti, Ferat Hajdari, and Sadik Aliu to 8 years each, and Shefqet Musliu to 5 years of imprisonment. They were found guilty of committing a criminal act of war crime against the civilian population, as defined by Article 142 Paragraph 1 of the Criminal Code of Yugoslavia, in Gnjilane/Gjilan during the period June 17th-23rd, 1999, against protected witnesses C1 and C2, whom they tortured, beat and raped. The accused were acquitted, due to a lack of evidence, of charges of torture and killing of as yet unidentified victims and of the mutilation and incineration of bodies. Fazli Ajdari, Rexhep Aliu, Shaqir Shaqiri, Shefqet Musliu, Sadik Aliu, Idriz Aliu, Shemsij Nuhium, Ramadan Halimi, and Ferat Hajdari were acquitted of all charges due to the lack of evidence.
On June 26, 2012 the Trial Panel of the Higher Court in Belgrade – War Crimes Department, presided over by judge Olivera Andjelkovic, delivered its judgment on fourteen defendants, convicted for having ordered or carried out an attack on Croat civilians in the village of Lovas, in the Republic of Croatia, during October and November 1991. The fourteen were convicted for having committed crimes of inhuman treatment, torture, violation of bodily integrity (beating, wounding or causing serious bodily harm) and murder, which resulted in the killing of 40 and the wounding of 11 Croat civilians.
On June 19th, 2012, the trial chamber of the Higher Court in Belgrade – War Crimes Department, presided over by Judge Dragan Mirković, convicted four persons indicted for the commission of war crimes against Croat civilians in the Beli Manastir municipality between August 1991 and later the same year. Zoran Vukšić was sentenced to 20 years in prison Slobodan Strigić to 10 years, Bransko Hrnjak to 5 years and Velimir Bertić to 1 year and 6 months.
A debate on war crimes trials in Serbia was held on Friday April 27th, 2012 in the Media Centre in Belgrade. The reason for organizing this debate was the Report on War Crimes Trials in Serbia in 2011 published by the Humanitarian Law Center (HLC). Representatives of the Office of the War Crimes Prosecutor, the Higher Court in Belgrade Department for War Crimes, the Court of Appeals in Belgrade, the courts from all over Serbia, attorneys, representatives of civil society, and representatives of embassies participated in the debate.
The Trial Chamber of the Higher Court in Belgrade War Crimes Department presided by Judge Tatjana Vuković rendered a judgment on December 16th, 2011, after three years of trials, finding the accused Darko Janković aka Pufta and Goran Savić guilty and sentencing them to 15 years of imprisonment and 1 year and 6 months of imprisonment respectively, while the accused Saša Ćilerdžić was acquitted of charges. The Humanitarian Law Center believes that the Court has rendered a just sentence in the case of the accused Janković, which is adequate for the gravity of the crime committed. In this moment, while there is no access to the written reasoning of the judgment, it is unclear what were the reasons that led the Court into rendering the acquittal of Ćilerdžić and the minimum prison sentence in the case of the accused Savić.
According to the assessment of the Humanitarian Law Center (HLC), the trial and acquittal of Miloš Simonović and Republic of Serbia MoI Reserve Dragiša Marković for the murder of Isa Emini, an Albanian from Priština/Prishtin, rendered by the Court of Appeal in Niš on November 17th, 2011, raises serious doubts as to the declared willingness of the Judiciary of the Republic of Serbia to prosecute perpetrators of war crimes who are members of the Police.
The Humanitarian Law Center believes that the sentence rendered in this case, even though it may be considered strict, could have been stricter, since the victims of the crime were civilians who were murdered in a brutal manner, and the accused is a former member of the Reserve Police, who had an obligation to protect civilians. The accused in this case did not submit a guilty plea for the murder, nor did he show remorse or express his condolences to the family of the victims, thus preventing this trial from offering moral satisfaction for victims’ family members.