Sinisa Rimac, a former member of the “Mercepovci” and a convicted murderer, testified at the trial of Tomislav Mercep on Wednesday that he only knew of the crimes committed there “from the media“.
Rimac served five and a half years in prison for the murder of an unknown man in Pakracka Poljana in 1991, and for robbery and racketeering in relation to three Zagreb Serbs.
Testifying on Wednesday at the trial of Mercep, the former top adviser to the Croatian wartime Interior Ministry, he said that he could not remember who commanded the “Mercepovci“ unit.
He claimed that Tomislav Mercep had a logistical and administrative role, but no operational authority in the “Mercepovci“ unit.
Rimac said that he had heard about the murder of the family of Mihajlo Zec in December 1991, in Zagreb.
He added he had stood trial for that murder, but that he was acquitted.
In the second half of the nineties, the Croatian magazine, the Feral Tribune, published the police records from the Rimac hearing, in which he confessed that he had participated in the murder of the Zec family.
But since he was interrogated without his attorney, the court acquitted him because of a “procedural failure“.
Mihajlo Zec was killed on December 7, 1991, in Zagreb. His wife Marija and 12-year-old daughter Aleksandra were killed that same night in a wood near Zagreb.
The murder of the Zec family, who were Serb civilians living in the Croatian capital, is considered by many to be one of the cruellest war crimes committed by the Croatian forces.
The family was murdered in cold blood far from the frontline. Aleksandra Zec was shot in the head.
Nobody has ever been prosecuted for the crime.
The killing of the Zec family forms part of the indictment against Tomislav Mercep, who is charged with personally ordering the unlawful capture, torture and killing of civilians from October 8,until mid-December 1991 in the environs of Zagreb, Kutina and Pakrac in central Croatia.
According to the indictment, his police unit illegally captured 52 people, killing 43 of them. Three others disappeared and six survived torture.
The second witness scheduled to appear at Wednesday’s trial session, Igor Mikola, did not appear in court, because he is on the run from a prison sentence.
Mikola was sentenced to five years in prison in 2005, having been convicted on the same murder, robbery and racketeering charges as Rimac.
He escaped before the verdict was passed, and has been at large ever since.
Mercep's trial continues on September 13.