Criminal charges against members of the Red Berets (“Crvene beretke”) for crimes committed in Doboj in 1992

Criminal charges against members of the Red Berets (“Crvene beretke”) for crimes committed in Doboj in 1992

Crvene beretke

On June 21st 2017, the Humanitarian Law Center (HLC) filed a criminal complaint with the Office of the War Crimes Prosecutor of the Republic of Serbia (OWCP) against Radojica Božović, a former high-ranking member of the Red Berets, as well as against two other members of this unit, for crimes committed in Doboj (Bosnia and Herzegovina) in the period from May to August 1992.

The persons charged are suspected of the expulsion of several hundred Bosniaks from the village of Bukovačke Čivčije (Municipality of Doboj) in the period from May to August 1992, killing one member of the Croatian National Guard, robbing civilians, and abusing and torturing prisoners in the Doboj district prison.

The proceedings against Dušan Vuković have been conducted before the War Crimes Department of the High Court in Belgrade since March 2016. During the relevant period, Dušan Vuković was a guard of the district prison in Doboj, and he is charged with torturing several detainees in 1992 and 1993, one of whom died as a result of the physical abuse. These proceedings do not include other persons responsible for crimes committed in the prison, as well as in the town of Doboj, during the armed conflict.

Although the OWCP states in the indictment that members of the Red Berets committed crimes in the district prison in Doboj, it also incorrectly states that their identity is unknown. The crimes of the Red Berets in Doboj, and in Doboj prison, are in fact described by the ICTY in the judgment for the Stanišić and Simatović Case (especially on pages 265 and onward), and the prime suspects for these crimes are identified in the judgment.

Although the OWCP mentions the Red Berets in its indictment, as a unit of the State Security of the Republic of Serbia, in the same indictment the OWCP also refers to the conflict in BiH as an internal conflict, which would actually mean that no other country, including Serbia, participated in this war.

Therefore, the HLC believes that this was either gross negligence on behalf of the OWCP, or a deliberate refusal to indict the suspected members of the Red Berets.

To date, the domestic courts have not prosecuted a single member of the Red Berets for the crimes committed during the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia. Therefore, the HLC urges the OWCP to investigate the allegations from the filed criminal complaint, to prosecute those responsible and to provide the victims with the right to the truth after 25 years.