news 21 May 12

Croatia Sentenced Mladic in 1992 for War Crimes

The Hague Tribunal, ICTY, did not include war crimes in Croatia into the indictment against Ratko Mladic, although the Croatian judiciary sentenced him in absentia to 20 years imprisonment in 1992.

Boris Pavelic

According to the information from the Croatian Prosecutor's Office, in July 1992, the County Court in the coastal town of Sibenik sentenced Mladic to twenty years imprisonment for the attack on the village of Kijevo, in the Dalmatian hinterland, on August 26, 1991.

At the time, Mladic was the commander of the 9th Yugoslav People’s Army, JNA, Corps, and as such he ordered an artillery attack on Kijevo. About 1,600 grenades, including 16 cluster bombs, fell on the village which was totally destroyed.

Mladic was also sentenced for ordering attacks on the villages around the towns of Sinj and Vrlika in the Dalmatian hinterland in the period between September 16 until 23, 1991.

In those attacks “many civilians” were killed and civilian and industrial objects, including monuments of culture, were destroyed, states the verdict.

In December 1995, Croatian prosecutors filed an indictment against Mladic for an attempt to destroy a hydro plant in the village of Peruca near Sinj.

Mladic, according to the indictment, ordered 30 tons of explosives to be put into the foundations of the Peruca dam. On January 28, 1993, the plant and the dam were partially destroyed, posing a threat to 50,000 people living downstream, which was prevented by workers of the Croatian electric enterprise HEP.

By the time Mladic was appointed as the commander of the 9th JNA Corps in the Croatian town of Knin on June 3, 1991, the territory was already cut off from the rest of Croatia, because Croatian Serbs, who proclaimed the Serb Autonomous Territory of Krajina in 1990, barricaded  the roads around Knin on  August 17, 1990.

Under Mladic's command, JNA's units, which in the beginning of the conflict in Croatia mostly separated warring Croatian and Serb sides, soon aligned itself with the Serb forces.

The ICTY verdict against Milan Martic, former president of the self-proclaimed Serb Autonomous Territory of Krajina, claims that JNA attack on the village of Kijevo on August 26 1991, which was commanded by Mladic, marks the moment when the JNA openly stood on the side of the Serb forces in the conflict in the former Yugoslavia.

Croatia also launched several investigations against Mladic.

In January 1996, the prosecution started an investigation against Mladic for ordering the shelling of the town of Pozega in eastern Croatia on September 26, 1995, which allegedly wounded “many persons” and caused material damage.

The prosecutors claimed that Mladic, who was then the commander of the Bosnian Serb army, ordered the shelling of Pozega from the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Croatian prosecutors from the coastal town of Zadar launched an investigation against Mladic in February 2005, for commanding the JNA artillery attacks on Zadar and villages in the hinterland from September 1991 until the end of December 1992.

Many civilians were killed and wounded during the shelling, and the city’s water and electricity supplies were blocked for months.

It is alleged that Mladic, as a JNA commander, is responsible for the death of 88 people in the village of Skabrnja, near Zadar, on November 18, 1991 and the death of 30 people in the village of Saborsko in central Croatia, also in November 1991.  However, he was never indicted for those deaths, neither by Croatia, nor by the ICTY.

The Croatian prosecutor's office said it informed the ICTY about the verdict and the investigations against Mladic in 2003,.

After Mladic was arrested in July 2011, then Croatian PM Jadranka Kosor announced Croatia would  “insist” that the ICTY includes crimes in Croatia into Mladic's indictment.

But the ICTY did not include Croatia’s findings in its indictment causing public outcry in the country.

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