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Office of the War Crimes Prosecutor v. Miroljub Vujović et al.

Court District Court in Belgrade, War Crimes Chamber, Serbia-Montenegro
Case number K.V. No. 1/03
Decision title Indictment
Decision date 16 September 2005
  • Office of the War Crimes Prosecutor
  • Miroljub Vujović
  • Stanko Vujanović
  • Jovica Perić
  • Ivan Atanasijević
  • Predrag Madžarac
  • Milan Vojnović
  • Milan Lančužanin
  • Marko Ljuboja
  • Predrag Milojević
  • Vujo Zlatar
  • Goran Mugoša
  • Đorde Šošić
  • Miroslav Đanković
  • Slobodan Katić
  • Nada Kalaba
  • Predrag Dragović
Categories War crimes
Keywords Former Yugoslavia; Ovcara massacre; war crimes against prisoners of war; Vukovar Territorial Defence
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The accused were all members of the Vukovar Territorial Defence force (TO) or of the volunteer unit called “Leva Supoderica”.

On 18 November 1991, members of the Croatian armed forces surrendered themselves to the Yugoslav People's Army (JNA). As a result, they had to enjoy certain rights and protection under international law because they were prisoners of war. For instance, they had to be treated humanely, should not be beaten or killed. Nevertheless, they were taken to the Ovčara farm in the Vukovar municipality on 20 and 21 November 1991, where they were brutally beaten, injured, and killed by members of the TO force (including the accused). Approximately 200 Croatians were killed at the Ovčara farm.

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Related developments

On 13 March 2007, the trial began on the basis of the indictment issued on 16 September 2005 and amended on 24 November 2005.

On 12 December 2005, the War Crimes Chamber of the District Court in Belgrade sentenced Miroljub Vujović, Stanko Vujanović, Milan Lančužanin, Predrag Milojević, Predrag Dragović, Đorđe Šošić, Miroslav Đanković and Ivan Atanasijević to 20 years in prison; Vujo Zlatar, Milan Vojinović and Jovica Perić to 15 years in prison; Predrag Madžarac to 12 years in prison; Nada Kalaba to nine years in prison; and Goran Mugoša was sentenced to five years in prison. Due to lack of evidence, the defendants Marko Ljuboja and Slobodan Katić were acquitted and immediately released out of detention.

On 18 October 2006, the Serbian Supreme Court nullified the verdict issued on 12 December and did sent the case back for retrial. The verdict was quashed because of an essential violation of the criminal procedure provisions and an incorrect and incomplete establishment of facts.

On 13 March 2007, the retrial began.

On 12 March 2009, 12 defendants were found guilty while four of the defendants were acquitted. Miroljub Vujović, Stanko Vujanović, Predrag Milojević, Đorđe Šošić, Miroslav Đanković, Ivan Atanasijević were sentenced to 20 years in prison, Milan Vojinović was sentenced to 15 years in prison, Jovica Perić was sentenced to 13 years in prison, Nada Kalaba was sentenced to nine years in prison, Milan Lančužanin was sentenced to six years in prison, Goran Mugoša and Predrag Dragović were sentenced to five years in prison. Predrag Madžarac, Vujo Zlatar, Marko Ljuboja and Slobodan Katić were acquitted of charges.

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Legally relevant facts

All the accused were members of the volunteer unit called “Leva Supoderica” and the Vukovar TO force, which was part of the Yugoslav People's Army (JNA).

On 18 November 1991, members of the Croatian armed forces laid down their weapons and surrendered themselves to JNA forces. The captives included members of the Croatian armed forces, militias, volunteer units, organised resistance movements, and individuals who escorted the armed forces though they were not their constituent part. The captives became prisoners of war and were transported to the Ovčara farm in the municipality of Vukovar where they were handed over to members of the Vukovar TO force.

The indictment alleged that between the afternoon of 20 November and the morning of 21 November 1991, the accused ‘killed, physically injured, degraded and otherwise brutalized war prisoners’ at the Ovčara farm. The event is now also known as the “Ovčara massacre”.

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Specific legal rules and provisions

Geneva Convention (III), 1949:

  • Article 3(1)(a) and (c) - Conflicts not of an international character

  • Article 4(1), (2), and (3) - Prisoners of war

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

  • Article 22 - Complicity

  • Article 144 - War crime against prisoners of war

Additional Protocol (II) to the Geneva Conventions, 1977:

  • Article 4(1) and (2) - Fundamental guarantees

The Criminal Procedure Code, 2011, Republic of Serbia:

  • Article 46 - Public Prosecutor’s Territorial Jurisdiction

  • Article 142 - Obtaining Samples for Forensic-Genetic Analysis

  • Article 266 - Payment of Fees and Necessary Expenses
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Further analysis

S. Mahieu, ‘Putting Direct Perpetrators on Trial: the Ovcara Massacre Trial in Belgrade’, EUI Working Paper MWP No. 2007/11, European University Institute, November 2007, pp. 1-19.

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Instruments cited

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Related cases

District Court in Belgrade, War Crimes Chamber (Republic of Serbia), Office of the War Crimes Prosecutor v. Saša Radak, Indictment, 13 April 2005.

District Court in Belgrade, War Crimes Chamber(Republic of Serbia), Office of the War Crimes Prosecutor v. Milorad Pejić, Case No. KTRZ 4/03, Indictment, 8 April 2008.

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Additional materials

War crimes trial test for Serbs’, BBC News, 9 March 2004.

‘Za streljanja 20 godina’, Novosti, 25 November 2005.

‘Presuda za masakr na Ovčari: Sudska overa zločina’, Vreme, 15 December 2005.