Croatia Convicts Yugoslav Intelligence Chief of War Crimes

Osijek County Court. Photo: Vuk Tesija.

The court found that Vasiljevic committed the crimes as the head of the Security Directorate of the then Yugoslavian Federal Secretariat for National Defence, SSNO, during the war in Croatia.

Under a SSNO order signed on October 10, 1991, camps for prisoners of war were established Begejci, Stajicevo, Sremska Mitrovica, Nis and Stara Gradiska in Serbia. A total of 19 Croatian detainees were killed in the camps, the court found.

A larger number of detained civilians and prisoners of war suffered severe and life-threatening injuries, with permanent damage to their health, while several women systematically raped and sexually abused, according to the prosecution.

Explaining the verdict, presiding judge Zvonko Vrban said that the evidence showed that Vasiljevic ordered that the camps be set up in Serbia, and that they were managed by his subordinates from the State Security Service, although officially the camp commanders were from the Yugoslav People's Army.

"Detainees were physically and mentally tortured and abused in the camps on a daily basis, through interrogations conducted by members of the Serbian State Security Service, which Vasiljevic knew, but did not prevent, nor did he ensure adequate conditions for the lives of the prisoners; therefore, in such inhumane conditions of daily abuse, 19 detainees were killed, and the health of a large number of people was damaged," said judge Vrban.

He said that the representatives of the Croatian authorities who negotiated the release of prisoners from the camps in Serbia, said in witness statements that Vasiljevic was the main person with whom such releases were agreed, and that he was familiar with the conditions in the camps because he visited...

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