News 14 Sep 17

Croatian Serbs Tried for Burning Village Homes

Three former members of Croatian Serb rebel units went on trial in absentia in Zagreb for burning homes in the village of Nova Derencina in central Croatia in 1991.

Sven Milekic
BIRN
Zagreb
Zagreb County Court. Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Suradnik 13

The trial of Nikola Ladjevic, Predrag Radisic and Dean Tisma, former members of the 2nd Battalion of the armed forces of the Republic of Serbian Krajina, an unrecognised wartime Serb staletet, started at Zagreb county court on Thursday.

The three men are being tried for burning and destroying houses in the village of Nova Derencina, which was almost completely populated by Croats, in October 1991.

They are being tried in absentia, as they are presumed to be living in Serbia.

Ladjevic was the commander of the platoon and Radisic and Tisma his subordinates when Serb troops have attacked the village on October 6, 1991, after Croat defence of the nearby town of Petrinja had been defeated.

According to witnesses who were members of the Croatian Army, the Serbs attacked the village, burning houses and barns. During the attack, tanks also destroyed houses, the witnesses said.

Croat soldiers first retreated and then came back to found the village half-burned.

Then Serb forces attacked again and burned around 80 out of some 120 houses in the village.

Two elderly Croat women are claimed to have survived the attack; one of them was captured and immediately released by Serb forces.

Four witnesses testified on Thursday but said they did not see the defendants burning houses.

However, former Croatian soldiers who testified claimed that the accused were members of Serb units and said they recognised Radisic and Tisma from photos shown to them by the state attorney.

On some of the photos, the witnesses could not distinguish Tisma from his brother, who was a similar age and whose name was not disclosed.

Some photos show Radisic burning houses, but it was not clear when exactly the photos were taken.

On some of the photos, notorious Serb commander Dragan Vasiljkovic, known as Captain Dragan, was shown posing with the accused and other Serb soldiers.

The indictment was filed by the state attorney’s office in Sisak back in 2009, while most of the witnesses first gave evidence back in 2004.

The trial will continue on September 29, when another four witnesses will testify.

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