We Should Know the Facts: September 9, 1993 – Medak Pocket, Croatia

In the joint operation by Croatian military police conducted in the period from September 9 – 17, 1993, Croatian armed forces killed 36 civilians and several soldiers after they had been captured. For the duration of the operation between 40 and 45 members of the police and Army of the then-Republic of Serbian Krajina were killed.

There were 17 women among the civilians killed. During the Medak Pocket operation, Croatian soldiers burned down, destroyed, or administered explosives to over 300 houses and other buildings in villages Počitelj, Čitluk, and Divoselo and in 9 other village hamlets, killed all livestock and poisoned all water wells in the area.

Milan Rajčević, a disabled person, was tied to a car, dragged around a courtyard, and later hung from a tree by Croatian soldiers. Republic of Serbian Krajina soldier, Nikola Stojisavljević, was also hung from a tree and while he was still alive, Croatian soldiers threw knives at him. Sisters Nedeljka and Stana Krajnović were burned alive. Bosiljka Bjegović, a blind old lady, was killed at her doorstep. Anđa Jović was impaled while she was still alive. Her remains were found in a septic tank in 2000 in Obradović Varoš, near Gospić. The remains of Milan Jović, Stevo Vujnović, and several other unidentified persons were also found in the same septic tank.

So far, one criminal trial was conducted before the County Court of Zagreb for crimes committed in the Medak Pocket region, which was at the time of the events under the protectorate of UNPROFOR. The trial was held against Rahim Ademi, officer of the Croatian Army and acting commander for the tactical assembly area of Gospić; Mirko Norac, commander of the Ninth Motorized Brigade within the Gospić tactical assembly area; commander of the Sector One special operations -tactical group, formed solely for the purpose of the Pocket ’93 operation. The Office of the Prosecutor of the ICTY also indicted Janko Bobetko, Chief-of-Staff of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Croatia, for the crimes committed in the Medak Pocket, but he died before the trial against him was initiated. The indictments against Croatian generals Ademi and Norac were raised by the Office of the Prosecutor of the ICTY in 2005, and later the case was transferred to the Croatian judiciary. The legally binding decision handed down in 2009 from the Croatian judiciary acquitted Ademi of all accusations and sentenced Norac to six years in prison for his involvement in the death of four civilians and one prisoner of war, and for the torture of one prisoner.

In the trial conducted by the County Court of Zagreb it was established that the following persons were killed during the Medak Pocket operation: Ankica Vujnović, Ljubica Kričković-Živčić, Sara Kričković, Pera Krajnović, Đuro Krajnović, Boja Vujnović, Marko Potkonjak, Janko Potkonjak, Nikola Vujnović, Bosiljka Bjegović, Mile Sava Rajčević, Nedeljka Krajnović, Momčilo Vujnović, Ljiljana Jelača, Milan Matić, Nikola Jerković, Anđa Jović, Stana Krajnović, Milka Bjegović, Mile Pejnović, Dmitar Jović, Mara Jović, Đuro Vujnović, Stevo Vujnović, Boja Pjevač, Milan Rajčević, Branko Vujnović i vojni zarobljenici: Milan Jović, Stanko Despić, Dane Krivokuća, Nikola Stojisavljević, and Dragan Pavlica.