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Office of the War Crimes Prosecutor v. Ilija Jurišić

Court District Court in Belgrade, War Crimes Chamber, Serbia-Montenegro
Decision title Indictment
Decision date 9 November 2007
  • Office of the War Crimes Prosecutor
  • Ilija Jurišić
Categories War crimes
Keywords Former Yugoslavia; medical personnel; methods of combat; Tuzla; war crimes
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Ilija Jurišić was a member of the Bosnia and Herzegovina police reserve forces as well as a high-ranking commander in the Tuzla-based State Security Operational Centre. Later, Jurišić exercised control over all armed troops deployed over the territory of Tuzla. In the latter function, Jurišić allegedly ordered his subordinates to attack a column of soldiers of the Yugoslav Peoples' Army (JNA) on 5 May 1992, while this convoy had just started to withdraw from Tuzla. As a result of this attack, at least 92 JNA soldiers were killed and more than 30 others were injured.

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Procedural history

On 14 May 2004, Ilija Jurišić was arrested at Nikola Tesla Airport in Belgrade pursuant to an international arrest warrant.

The case against Jurišić was initially addressed by the Military Prosecutor’s Office in Belgrade and referred to the competence of the Serbian War Crimes Prosecutor in 2004. The case was handled in cooperation with the State Prosecutor of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

On 22 February 2008, the trial commenced.

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Related developments

On 28 September 2009, the War Crimes Chamber of the Belgrade District Court found Jurišić guilty of using impermissible means of combat and sentenced him to 12 years imprisonment.

In October 2010, the Belgrade Appeals Court overturned his conviction and ordered a retrial. The court reasoned that the September 2009 proceedings in the War Crimes Chamber of the Belgrade District Court provided insufficient evidence to prove Jurišić’s guilt. Therefore, it released Jurišić and overturned his 12-year prison sentence.  

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Legally relevant facts

As the former head of the Operational Group of the Tulza-based Public Security Service Center and as the order-issuing authority in control of all armed troops deployed over the territory of Tuzla, Jurišić allegedly ordered the deployed troops on 15 May 1992 to open fire on a convoy of soldiers of the Serb-led Yugoslav Peoples' Army (JNA). The attacked convoy just started to peacefully withdraw from Tuzla. At least 92 JNA soldiers were killed and at least 33 others were wounded (p. 2). The attack also resulted in the destruction of a considerable number of military vehicles and ambulances (p. 5).

Jurišić was charged with violating Article 148 of the Criminal Act of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY) for using impermissible means of combat. Moreover, the attack orders issued by Jurišić constituted impermissible methods of combat that are incriminated by  international law, including Geneva Convention I and Additional Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions.

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Core legal questions

Can Jurišić be held guilty for the attack directed against a JNA convoy of soldiers on 15 May 1992?

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Specific legal rules and provisions

Geneva Convention (I), 1949:

  • Article 19 - Protection

The Criminal Code of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, 1977:

  • Article 148(2) - Making use of forbidden means of warfare

Geneva Conventions Additional Protocol I, 1977:

  • Article 21 - Medical vehicles

  • Article 37(1) - Prohibition of perfidy

Law on Organisation and Competences of Government Authorities in War Crimes Proceedings, 2004, Republic of Serbia:

  • Article 3 - Jurisdiction

  • Article 4(2) - The Prosecutor’s Office for War Crimes
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Instruments cited

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Additional materials

Fate of Tuzla War Crimes Suspect to be Decided in Serbia’, justice report, 25 September 2007.

‘Indictment brought against Ilija Jurišić, Republic of Serbia - Office of the War Crimes Prosecutor, Public Relations Service, 9 November 2007.

‘Verdict to Ilija Jurišić establishes judicial truth about the Tuzla Crime of May 1992Republic of Serbia - Office of the War Crimes Prosecutor, Public Relations Service, 28 September 2009.

J. Gec, 'Sentence for ex-Bosnian officer overturned',, 11 October 2010.

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Social media links

Genocidal Serbia Raised Indictment Against Bosnian Citizen Ilija Jurišić’, Bosnia News, 12 November 2007.

Bosnia unhappy about Tuzla indictment (Religion Of Peace)’, Free Republic, 13 November 2007.

Team of Lawyers Representing Bosnian Citizen Ilija Jurisic Ready for Defence’, Bosnia News, 12 January 2008.

Serbia charges 19 Bosnian officials with war crimes’, Bulletmani’s Weblog, 25 February 2009.