Belgrade Convicts Serbian Fighters of War Crime in Croatia

Belgrade High Court on Thursday found Zeljko Krnjacic, Milan Devcic, Darko Peric, Radovan Vlajkovic, Radisav Josipovic, Jovan Dimitrijevic, Sasa Stojanovic and Zoran Kosijer guilty of involvement in a war crime against civilians in Lovas in Croatia in October 1991.

The court sentenced Zeljko Krnjacic to six years in prison, Milan Devcic to eight years, Darko Peric to five years, Radovan Vlajkovic to five years, Radisav Josipovic to four years, Jovan Dimitrijevic to six years, Sasa Stojanovic to seven years and Zoran Kosijer to six years.

The eight defendants are former members of the police force, Serb Territorial Defence forces, the Yugoslav People's Army and the Dusan Silni (Dusan the Great) paramilitary unit.

Commenting on the sentencing, judge Zorana Trajkovic said that "the punishments were limited because of previous punishments [in the defendants' first trial in the same case seven years ago] and because the prosecution didn't prove everything from the indictment".

This is a first-instance verdict and can be appealed.

According to the indictment, Serbian forces captured the village of Lovas on October 10, 1991, when the first of the victims were killed.

On October 17, the forces allegedly rounded up around 70 men from Lovas, aged 18 to 65, detained them and tortured some of them.

The next day, defendants Radovan Vlajkovic and Radisav Josipovic were ordered to use the civilians as a human shield in a minefield, according to the indictment.

When they got to the minefield, members of the Dusan Silni paramilitary unit told the civilians to walk in a line and check with their feet where the mines were. Vlajkovic and Josipovic allegedly participated in this.

When one man fell over, a mine exploded, and at the...

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