Four former members of the Beli Manastir police were found guilty of crimes against civilians in Croatia in 1991.
The Trial Chamber of the Special Court in Belgrade on Tuesday found Zoran Vuksic, Slobodan Strigic, Branko Hrnjak and Velimir Bertic guilty of murdering six civilians of non-Serb nationality, illegal imprisonment, intimidation, violation of bodily integrity and torture.
The presiding judge, Dragan Mirkovic, said that the accused, as members of the police armed forces of Serb Autonomous Region of Eastern Slavonia, Baranja and Western Srem, a or the Serb side in the conflict, violated the international law and the Geneva Convention, since they treated local civilian population inhumanely.
Zoran Vuksic, also known as Yellow, whom many witnesses deemed to be close to Vojislav Seselj and the Serbian Radical Party, was given a maximum sentence of 20 years of prison, because, according to the Court's announcement, it has been proven beyond any reasonable doubt that he took part in the murders of Adam Baric, four members of the Cicak family and Ivo Malek.
Slobodan Strigic was sentenced to 10 years of prison, Branko Hranjak to five, and Velimir Bertic to a year and six months.
“All the accused treated civilians in Beli Manastir and the area inhumanely by illegally detaining them in the local police station, where they were tortured, beaten, intimidated and forced to sing Chetnik songs“, said judge Mirkovic.
During the conflict in 1991, Beli Manastir was a part of the Serb Autonomous Region of Eastern Slavonia, Baranja and Western Srem, a self-proclaimed Serb entity on the Croatian territory.
For crimes committed in this part of Croatia the Hague Tribunal charged Serb leaders Goran Hadzic, former self-proclaimed president of the region, and Vojislav Seselj, leader of the Serbian Radical Party.
Trial for crimes in Beli Manastir began in 2010, after the State Prosecution of Republic of Croatia passed the case on to Serbia. During the two-year process 67 witnesses were examined.
The War Crimes Prosecutor’s Office has said it will appeal the verdict on Strigic, Hrnjak and Bertic.