News 17 May 10

Montenegro Sentences Six for War Crimes

Six former members of the Yugoslav People’s Army, JNA, convicted by a first instance verdict on Saturday for war crimes in Montenegro, have been released until the final verdict is delivered.

The High Court in Podgorica, Montenegro convicted all six by a first instance verdict on 15 May.This is the first verdict for war crimes issued in Montenegro since it declared independence from Serbia in 2006.

Mladjen Govedarica, Boro Gligic, Zlatko Tarle, Spiro Lucic, Ivo Menzalin and Ivo Gojnic were found guilty of war crimes against Croatian civilians and prisoners of war from the Dubrovnik region at the Morinj camp near Kotor in Montenegro during the 1990s.

According to the first instance verdict, they are guilty of torture, inhumane treatment of and infliction of bodily harm on 169 POWs and civilians.

Spiro Lucic was sentenced to three and a half years, Boro Gligic to three years, Ivo Gojinic to two and a half years, Mladen Govedjarica to two years and Zlatko Tarle to a year and a half in prison. The men have served their sentences while in detention.

Ivan Menzalin, the cook from the Morinj camp, was sentenced to four years in jail in absentia and the court ordered his arrest.

The Defense announced it would appeal the verdict, claming that it was political. It has 15 days to appeal.

The convicted are former lower-ranking soldiers. No senior official has yet been tried in Montenegro for shelling Dubrovnik.

Around 300 Croatian prisoners were held in Morinj. One of the witnesses during the trial said that three died in camp, and 56 after being released, suffering from the effects of beatings and psychological terror.

The indictment was issued after the Croatian Justice Ministry sent documents about the crimes to the High Court in Podgorica.

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