REPORT ON WAR CRIMES TRIALS IN SERBIA DURING 2022
The HLC has monitored all war crimes trials conducted in the territory of Serbia in 2022, namely a total of 25 cases conducted before the War Crimes Departments of the Higher Court and/or the Court of Appeal in Belgrade.
The Report provides a brief overview of the proceedings and of the HLC’s basic findings in respect of cases which are of public relevance. A large number of the war crimes cases covered by this Report have been going on for a number of years now, so that previous HLC annual trial reports are also relevant for a full grasp of the course of the proceedings and the pertinent HLC findings.
The report focuses on the work of the Office of the War Crimes Prosecutor (OWCP) and of the courts in parts of the judicial proceedings open to the public, primarily by analysing the indictments and the judgments in each particular case. An analysis of the work of other bodies involved in the prosecution of war crimes – the War Crimes Investigation Service of the Serbian Ministry of the Interior (MUP), the Witness Protection Unit and others, cannot not be undertaken in respect of the individual cases, as no information on their activities is publicly available.
In the reporting period, the War Crimes Department of the Higher Court in Belgrade handed down first-instance judgments in five cases. It also rendered a decision terminating criminal proceedings in respect of one defendant who had died. The War Crimes Department of the Court of Appeal in Belgrade handed down two judgments. Over the reporting period, the OWCP reportedly issued 12 indictments against 19 persons, five of which were transferred from BiH.
Since it began working in 2003 until the end of 2022, the OWCP brought indictments in 101 war crimes cases, indicting a total of at least 231 persons and encompassing at least 3,405 victims who lost their lives . Final judgments have been rendered in 60 cases and 30 cases are pending. In cases which have been concluded by a final decision, a total of 89 defendants have been convicted and 54 acquitted. Also, indictments were dismissed against 30 out of the total number of the indictees, either on account of their incapacity to stand trial, or because proceedings were terminated on account of their deaths. In the finally concluded cases, the indictments listed a total of 974 victims who had lost their lives, whereas the final judgments list 748 victims who had perished.
Preceding the analyses of the cases in the Report is an overview of general findings on war crimes trials in 2022, and of important socio-political developments which have had some bearing on war crimes trials.