Serbian Court Cuts Sentences for Wartime Killings of Croats

Belgrade Appeals Court has reduced the sentences handed down to six men who were convicted of involvement in a war crime against civilians in Lovas in Croatia in October 1991, and acquitted two others who had been found guilty at their initial trial.

The court reduced Sasa Stojanovic's sentence to six years, Darko Peric and Radovan Vlajkovic's sentences to four years, and Radisav Josipovic, Jovan Dimitrijevic and Zoran Kosijer's sentences to three years.

Apart from the prison term given to Stojanovic, all the sentences are below the legal minimum for the crime.

The court also reversed the convictions of two other men, Zeljko Krnjajic and Milan Devcic, acquitting them on appeal.

The accused were all wartime members of the police, Serb Territorial Defence forces, the Yugoslav People's Army and the Dusan Silni (Dusan the Great) paramilitary unit.

Serbian forces captured the village of Lovas on October 10, 1991. On October 17, they rounded up around 70 men from Lovas, aged 18 to 65, detained them and tortured some of them.

The next day, defendants Vlajkovic and 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.

When one man fell over, a mine exploded, and at the same time a number of soldiers started shooting at the Croatians.

The Appeal Court said in its verdict, issued on November 20 but only made public on Monday, that the first-instance verdict convicting Krnjajic and Devcic had gone beyond the allegations listed in the indictment.

It explained the indictment "charged Krnjajic with...

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