News 24 Apr 17

Croatian Military Policemen Jailed for Lora Prison Crimes

Three former Croatian military policemen were jailed for crimes against Serb prisoners of war who were beaten and tortured at the Lora prison camp in the coastal city of Split in 1992.

Sven Milekic
Split. Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Mareksilarski.

Former Croatian military policemen Tonci Vrkic, Ante Gudic and Andjelko Botic were convicted on Monday of committing war crimes against Serb prisoners of war at the Lora military prison camp in Split in 1992, Croatian news site Index reported.

In the so-called ‘Lora 2’ case, Split county court sentenced Vrkic, the deputy commander of the camp, to six years in prison, and two members of the 72nd battalion of Croatia’s military police, Gutic and Botic, to four years each.

The men were found guilty of physically abusing the prisoners in the camp. Prisoners were beaten, tortured with electricity, subjected to mock executions and doused with cold water.

Some of the prisoners sustained bullet wounds and broken bones, and three of them – Bojan Vesovic, Dusan Jelic and Vlade Savic – were killed and buried in an Orthodox cemetery in the western Bosnian town of Tomislavgrad. They were later exhumed and reburied by their families.

In a separate case in 2007, the Croatian supreme sentenced Vrkic to eight years in prison, and Gudic and Botic to six years for war crimes against Serb civilians at the Lora camp in 1992.

In this case, which was dubbed ‘Lora 1’, the former military policemen were tried for the torture and abuse of Serb civilians, and the murder of two of them, Gojko Bulovic and Nenad Knezevic.

As a result of these previous convictions and sentences, the Split court said on Monday that the men should serve combined prison sentences for both convictions: Vrkic ten years and Gudic and Botic eight years each.

Although the accused did not admit to committing the crimes, their defence representatives said that they will not appeal.

The trial in the ‘Lora 2’ case started in September 2015 but was postponed several times due to procedural issues.

Two men who were accused along with them, prison commander Tomislav Duic – arrested in February 2016 after 11 years on the run – and another military policeman Emilio Bungur – arrested in August 2015 after ten years on the run – are being tried separately.

Duic and Bungur are also undergoing a retrial in the ‘Lora 1’, case since the verdict was delivered in their absence.

Another case known as ‘Lora 3’, which centres on alleged war crimes committed against Yugoslav People’s Army prisoners, mostly Montenegrins, is still being investigated by the Croatian state attorney’s office.

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