Crime at Ovčara – 32 years of avoiding responsibility

Deklaratat - 4On the occasion of the 32nd anniversary of the crime at the farm at Ovčara near Vukovar, the Humanitarian Law Center (HLC) requests the institutions of Serbia to prosecute the officers of the former JNA who directly contributed to the commission of that crime, to give up supporting war criminals, to bring to a satisfactory conclusion the years-long search for the mortal remains of victims, and to help enable the creation of a memory culture dignifying victims.


Three Decades since the Crime in Ovčara – We Remember the Victims

Ovcara-pamtimo-bhsSaturday, November 20, 2021, marks the 30th anniversary of the crime committed on the Ovčara farm near Vukovar, when members of the local Territorial Defence (TO) and Serb volunteers under the command of the Yugoslav People’s Army (JNA) killed 265 Croatian civilians and prisoners of war. On this occasion, the Humanitarian Law Center (HLC) reminds of the court-established facts about the crime in Ovčara and calls on the state institutions to pay tribute to the victims.

Immediately after seizing Vukovar, on November 20, 1991, JNA members took the injured, ill, civilians and members of the Croatian Armed Forces from the Vukovar hospital and took them to hangars on the Ovčara farm, about five kilometres southeast of Vukovar. From the moment they were brought to Ovčara, members of the Vukovar TO and the “Leva Supoderica” unit, composed mainly of volunteers from the Serbian Radical Party, beat, humiliated and abused detained Croats, all in the presence of members of the JNA Military Police. In the evening, members of the JNA withdrew from Ovčara following the orders of Colonel Mile Mrkšić. Members of the Vukovar TO and the “Leva Supoderica” volunteer unit took detainees out of the hangar during the night between November 20 and 21, 1991 and took them in groups of 10 to 20 people toward Grabovo. There, they were shot standing in front of a previously prepared mass grave. In Ovčara, besides wounded members of the Croatian armed forces, civilians, women and children were killed: Ružica Markobašić (32), who was in the late pregnancy at the time, Janja Podhorski (60), Dragutin Balog (17) and Igor Kačić (16).

200 bodies were exhumed from the mass grave at the Grabovo site, and 193 victims were identified. Seventeen bodies of the victims were found in the surrounding graves, while the bodies of dozens of victims are still being searched for.


Ovčara Case: 14 years waiting for justice


After 14 years, the first war crimes case before specialized court councils in Serbia came to a close with the new final judgment for the crime at Ovčara near Vukovar. The Humanitarian Law Center (HLC) points out that the trial in this case is one of the best indicators of the ineptitude of Serbian institutions in dealing with the obligation to approach the crimes from the past with responsibility and dedication.


25 Years Since Crime at Ovčara Victims’ trust in domestic judiciary is betrayed

Ovcara 25 godinaNovember 20th 2016 marks the 25th anniversary of the crime committed at „Ovčara“ farm near Vukovar, when members of the local territorial defense unit (Teritorijalna odbrana – TO) and Serb volunteers under the command of the Yugoslav People’s Army (JNA) killed 265 Croatian civilians and prisoners of war. The Humanitarian Law Center (HLC) on this occasion would like to remind the public that the trial of this case before the domestic courts has not yet been finally completed, even after more than 12 years.


Serbia Has Obligation to Locate Mass Gravesite with Victims from Ovčara and to Punish JNA Officers

post_saopstenje_vukovarOn November 20th, 2014, it will be 23 years since the crime at the “Ovčara” farm near Vukovar was committed. In this incident, members of the Serb Radical Party volunteer units under the control of the Yugoslav Peoples Army (JNA) executed 265 Croat civilians and prisoners of war. The bodies of 48 of the victims have not been found to date.


WE SHOULD KNOW THE FACTS: Ovčara, November 20, 1991

Shortly after the fall of Vukovar on November 20, 1991, members of the Yugoslav National Army (JNA) took from a hospital in Vukovar over 200 wounded and sick patients, including civilians and members of Croatian armed forces, and drove them to the agricultural farm in Ovčara.


Maximum sentence for Crime at Ovčara

BEOGRAD, 23 June 2009 – The War Crimes Chamber of the Belgrade District Court, presided by Judge Vesko Krstajić, found Damir Sireta guilty of the criminal act of a war crime against prisoners of war from Article 144 of the Criminal Code of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (KZ SRJ), in relation to Article 22 of the KZ SRJ, and sentenced him to 20 years’ imprisonment.