Darko Janković and Goran Savić Found Guilty of War Crimes Against Muslims in the Municipality of Zvornik
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.
In the reasoning of the sentence, the Presiding Judge stated as mitigating circumstances in the case of the accused Jaanković the fact that, at the time when the crime was committed, he was a young adult and that now he is a family man without a criminal record. As aggravating circumstances she stated the number of the acts committed the specially shown brutality and recklessness, and the fact that the victims were helpless persons, who were kept in inhumane living conditions and were submitted to severe physical and mental sufferings. The Presiding Judge stated in the case of the accused Savić that mitigating circumstances were the facts that he was young at the time the crime was committed, that he is a family man today and she said that there were no aggravating circumstances, but she failed to explain whether these mitigating circumstances were exceptionally mitigating which would justify the sentencing below the legal minimum [five years]. The trial of the accused Savić and Ćilerdžić began on September 4th, 2008. The indictment against Janković was filed on April 26th, 2010. In May 2010, the trial of the accused Janković was joined with the trial of the accused Savić and Ćilerdžić. 31 trial days were held, during which 34 witnesses were heard, including nine protected witnesses and the previously convicted Ivan Korać aka Zoks and Dragan Slavković aka Toro. The accused Savić and Čilerdžić pled not guilty and stated in their defence that at the time of the incident they were not present at Ekonomija or Ciglana, where Serb forces held Muslim civilians. The accused Janković stated in his defence that during the critical time, he did not commit any crimes at Ciglana and he was not present at Ekonomija or the Cultural Centre in Čelopek. The Trial Chamber believed the statements given by victims, including protected witnesses 1 and 3, who recognized the accused Janković in the courtroom. The Court established that the accused Janković and Savić, together with Dragan Slavković and Ivan Korać, arrived at the premises of the Ekonomija Farm in Zvonik on May 5th, 1992, where civilians of Muslim nationality, including Muhamet Redžić, Kemal Kortuković, Bego Bukvić, Nesib Dautović, Ismet Čirak, Abdulah Buljubašić aka Bubica, and protected witnesses U, 4, H, T, F and Beta, were held, and they beat the prisoners using their bare hands and a number of other objects. It was also established, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the accused Savić and Dragan Slavković came to the premises of Ekonomija on May 11th or 12th, 1992 where Slavković heavily beat the detained Muslim Abdulah Buljubašić, while the accused Savić was standing nearby with a gun in his hand. In one moment Savić took a golden necklace off Buljubašić’s neck and said: “You won’t need this anymore”. During the second half of the year of 1992, the accused Janković took Muslim Ismet Čirak from the room where prisoners were held and led him to a separate room, where he cut his throat, then threw him inside the trunk of a car driven by the accused Janković. The Court established that Janković killed Čirak from a firearm. The mortal remains of the victim were found in the mass grave at Crni Vrh. On this occasion, the accused Janković ordered the detainee Enver Dautović to do everything he could to take off the tattoo of the crescent from his arm. When the victim did not manage to do this, he cut the skin off his arm. The Prosecution failed to prove that the accused Savić and Ćilerdžić were present in the room when Janković mutilated prisoners Čirak and Dautović. The accused Janković was also convicted for taking the detained Muslims into looting of abandoned houses in Zvornik, and the Court did not find that the accused Savić and Čilerdžić took any part in this. A day prior to Eid, on June 10th or 11th, 1992, the accused Janković, together with Slavković and a number of unidentified persons, took Fikret Jahijagić and his son Valmir, Mehmedalija Bikić and his son or nephew Šaban on the stage of the Cultural Centre in Čelopek, where Muslims were detained, ordered them to take off their clothes and perform oral sex on each other. The accused Janković stabbed Hasan Atlić, Sakib Kapidžić, and Fikret Jahijagić on this occasion, and then, together with Ivan Slavković, he killed Šaban Bikić by stabbing him. After this, the accused Janković and another soldier ordered the prisoners to clean the room and take the bodies out. Hasan Halilović, Salih Zahirović, Husein Salihović, Nesib Okanović, and Sead Džihić took the corpses out, loaded them on an already prepared truck and took them in an unknown direction together with a number of unidentified soldiers. They never returned. Their bodies were exhumed from the mass grave at Crni Vrh. The accused Janković came to the premises of the Cultural Centre after Eid with several members of the Zvornik Territorial Defence and cut off Zulkanrein Efendić’s penis and Enes Čikarić’s ear and forced them to eat them. On the following occasion, the accused Janković ordered witness G to go to the stage, take his clothes off and sit in the praying position. When the witness did this, Janković stabbed him three times in the left and right thigh.