News 11 Jan 17

Croatia Tries Soldier for Operation Storm Killings

Rajko Krickovic, a retired soldier from the Croatian Army’s 118th Home Guard Regiment, went on trial for war crimes committed after Croatia military’s Operation Storm in August 1995.

Sven Milekic
BIRN
Zagreb
Rijeka. Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Laszlo Szalai.

Fifty-nine-year-old pensioner Rajko Krickovic’s trial started at the county court in the coastal city of Rijeka on Monday, with the ex-soldier accused of shooting 73-year-old Mara Sovilj and her 43-year-old son Radomir, and killing his 45-year-old sister Mira by burning her alive in their house in the village of Kijani near Gracac in the central Lika region.

Since Krickovic was born in the same village, media have speculated that this was an act of revenge, because Krickovic came to Kijani to find the whole village burned except the house of the Sovilj family, which he regarded as proof of their collaboration with Serb forces.

At an earlier preparatory hearing, Krickovic pleaded not guilty.

Krickovic was first arrested in June 2014, and an indictment was filed in November 2014 before the Rijeka court.

During Operation Storm, Croatian forces took back a large part of the country’s territory that had been under the control of rebel Croatian Serbs since 1991.

However, according to Croatian Helsinki Committee, the operation resulted in the killing of over 600 mostly elderly civilians and the expulsion of more than 200,000 Serbs.

In Kijani alone, 14 civilians – of whom nine were women – were killed after the operation.

The Croatian judiciary has so far delivered only one final judgment for war crimes committed during and after Operation Storm. Former Croatian soldier Bozo Bacelic was sentenced in May to seven years in prison for killing two civilians and one prisoner of war in Prokljan.

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