The prosecution and the defence teams have asked that the first instance verdict of the case against 6 ex army reservists, charged with war crimes against POWs in the Morinj camp in 1991 and 1992, be overturned.
The State Prosecutor and three defence lawyers have lodged an appeal on Thursday against the first instance verdict which jailed four former Yugoslav People’s Army, JNA, reservists.
In January, the Superior Court in Podgorica sentenced Ivo Gojnic, Spiro Lucic, Ivo Menzalin and Boro Gligic to a total of 12 years for war crimes against prisoners of war in 1991 and 1992.
The prisoners, Croatian soldiers, were captured on the battlefield near Dubrovnik, Croatia, and brought to the Morinj camp, close to the Montenegrin coastal town of Kotor.
Two other indictees, Zlatko Tarle and Mladjen Govedarica, were acquitted.
The defence teams for Ivo Menzalin, Boro Gligic and Ivo Gojnic appealed the verdict on Thursday, claiming it violated criminal procedures.
Their appeals mostly focused on inconsistencies and contradictions of the witnesses’ statements and the incomprehensibility of the verdict.
The most detailed, 70 pages long appeal, was lodged by the defence lawyer Vladimir Vulekovic, whose client, Menzalin, received the harshest sentence of 4 years imprisonment.
He argued that in the period between October 3, 1991 and January 15, 1992 [when Croatia was recognized as an independent state], the JNA was not fighting against the Croatian army, but against Croat rebels.
Therefore, according to Vulekovic, the international humanitarian law is not applicable for the period during which his client allegedly committed war crimes against prisoners of war.
According to the verdict Menzalin was a camp cook, who among other things, would beat prisoners with a ladle.
However, Vulekovic argued that Menzalin was only distributing food and hence his capacity within the camp was incorrectly defined by the verdict.
“It is incomprehensible that a war crime was committed with a ladle, and that, at the same time, the court refused to examine that ladle,” he said.
Veselin Vuckovic, deputy special prosecutor for organized crime, corruption and war crimes, requested a retrial on the grounds that the court neglected to take into account certain evidence, including those which pointed to the guilt of Govedarica and Tarle, who were acquitted.
The Appellate Court has two months to decide whether to uphold the appeals.