News 27 Jun 14

Croatia Increases Police Chief’s War Crimes Sentence

Former police commander Vladimir Milankovic, convicted of offences that led to the deaths of 24 Serb civilians in Sisak during wartime, had his sentence increased from eight to ten years.

Josip Ivanovic
BIRN
Zagreb
Milankovic (left) and co-defendant Bosnjak at their original trial last year in Osijek.

The Croatian supreme court on Friday upheld Milankovic’s conviction for ordering illegal arrests and not punishing the illegal detentions and abuses of Serb civilians, which resulted in the deaths of 24 people between mid-July 1991 and mid-June 1992.

“In is indisputable that accused Milankovic had merit in the Homeland [1991-95 war and that he was decorated nine times... but it cannot justify the crimes that were committed,” the verdict said.

It said that the sentence was “adequate” and “can influence the accused and others not to commit crimes again”.

However the supreme court acquitted Milanovic’s co-defendant, Drago Bosnjak, a former member of a Croatian special forces unit called the ‘Wolves’, due to the lack of evidence.

Milankovic was originally convicted and sentenced to eight years in jail at Osijek county court in December 2013, but both prosecution and defence appealed to the supreme court over the verdict.

The trial drew widespread public attention in Croatia because of the killing of 19-year-old Ljubica Solar by the group led by Milankovic.

She was allegedly killed by accident because her father was believed to be an informant for the Yugoslav Counterintelligence Service and therefore a possible target for an attack by Croatian police, although this theory has never been officially confirmed.

Her mother Vjera Solar expressed disappointment with the verdict at Osijek county court in December last year.

“Even if my daughter was the only murdered victim, is eight years of imprisonment enough for the murder of an innocent 19-year-old child?” asked Solar.

In 2007, Solar was denied compensation for the mental anguish caused by the killing of her daughter. She was also ordered to pay around 10,000 euro in court costs, but is currently appealing against the penalty at the constitutional court.

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