Two years after the filing of the criminal complaint against Dušan Lončar, the OWCP has still not taken action

Two years after the filing of the criminal complaint against Dušan Lončar, the OWCP has still not taken action

Specijalni sudToday, exactly two years have passed since the Humanitarian Law Center (HLC) filed a criminal complaint with the Office of the War Crimes Prosecutor (OWCP) against Dušan Lončar, former Commander of the Second Proletarian Elite Motorized Brigade of the Yugoslav People’s Army (JNA 2nd PEMBR), for the crime committed in the village of Lovas (Croatia) in October 1991. The HLC informs the public that since the lodging of the criminal complaint, the OWCP has done nothing to investigate this crime and prosecute those responsible.

On October 9th, 1991, Dušan Lončar issued an order (available in Serbian) to attack the village of Lovas, and for the cleansing from the terrain of members of the Croatian National Guard and of the Republic of Croatia Ministry of the Interior, as well as of members of the population ”showing hostility” Early in the morning of the following day, Lončar ordered the Howitzer Division of the JNA 2ndPEMBR to open fire and launch an artillery attack on Lovas, in which two Croat civilians were killed. Soon after this, members of the Dušan Silni volunteer-based unit entered Lovas, as part of the execution of the order issued by Lončar, and started shooting at random, and throwing hand grenades into backyards and houses. They killed several civilians while they were in their homes, and took others out of their houses and killed them in the street or other places, which resulted in the damaging and destruction of civilian property and the death of 21 civilians. Although the trial for crimes committed in Lovas (Lovas Case, available in Serbian) has been conducted for more than 10 years before the Higher Court in Belgrade, Dušan Lončar is not indicted in this case for ordering an attack on a civilian population, but appears as a witness.

Since the lodging of the criminal complaint until today, the attorney of the injured parties, who with the support of the HLC represents four persons, has sent a total of five urgencies to the OWCP in regard to this criminal complaint. In those urgencies, the HLC requested the OWCP to report back on the legal actions the prosecution had undertaken to investigate the allegations in this application. The OWCP offered responses to the first two urgencies only – on 20th December 2016 (available in Serbian), and then on 1st March 2017 (available in Serbian), claiming that they were acting on the criminal complaint and that the case was in the pre-trial procedure, but not stating what specific actions the prosecution had undertaken in order to determine the responsibility of the accused. The OWCP did not respond to the next three urgencies of the attorney to the injured parties, sent during the second half of 2017 and in 2018. Also, none of the injured parties in the two years since the lodging of the judicial complaint was called by the OWCP to give a statement on the event reported. For this reason, in mid-October 2018, the attorney of the injured parties sent a reclamation to the Public Prosecutor’s Office on the work of the OWCP with regard to the said criminal complaint. A decision has yet to be made regarding this reclamation.

Given that the HLC has delivered Dušan Lončar’s order to attack the members of the population of Lovas who were ”showing hostility” as evidence for the criminal charge, and that Lončar himself testified before the Higher Court in Belgrade in the Lovas Case claiming that “I would not be running away from any order which I signed” (transcript from 22nd June 2010, page 83, available in Serbian), the HLC requests the OWCP to conduct an effective and efficient investigation and, after collecting all available evidence, that it decide about filing an indictment against Dušan Lončar.