News 29 Oct 12

Serbia Brings Charges for Ovcara Massacre

The Serbian prosecution has filed charges against Petar Ciric for war crimes against 193 prisoners of war at the Ovcara farm in 1991, during the war in Croatia.

Marija Ristic
BIRN
Belgrade

Ovcara farm near Croatian town of Vukovar

Photo by Wikicommons

According to the Serbian Prosecutor’s Office for War Crimes, Petar Ciric, also known as Pero and Pero Cigan, is responsible for killing and torturing 193 Croatian prisoners of war at the farm near Vukovar on November 21, 1991.

According to the indictment, Ciric, as a member of the Territorial Defence, beat and tortured the prisoners as they were brought to the Ovcara farm on November 21, 1991.

After the prisoners were listed by name, he and other soldiers transferred them to the Grabovo field, situated one kilometre from Ovcara, where they were lined up and shot.

According to the prosecution, after returning to the Ovcara farm, he also shot additional ten prisoners in front of the main farm building.

Following the fall of the Croatian town of Vukovar in November 19, 1991, several hundred prisoners were executed at the nearby Ovcara farm.

Vukovar was the first town in Europe to be destroyed by fighting since the end of World War II.

In 1991, the Yugoslav People’s Army, JNA,  and Serbian paramilitary units encircled the town of Vukovar following Croatia’s declaration of independence from Yugoslavia.

Some 7,000 missiles fell daily on the town throughout a three-month siege, which destroyed about 85 per cent of the buildings.

Over 3,000 people were killed, while thousands of non-Serbs were expelled.

Vukovar remained under Serbian control until 1995. After the 1995 Dayton Accord ended the war in Bosnia the so-called Erdut Agreement placed the Vukovar region under the UN administration for two years prior to its reintegration with Croatia in 1998.

This is the forth case that the Serbian prosecution for war crimes is running for the crimes committed in the Ovcara farm. In previous trials 15 people were found guilty for war crimes and sentenced to a total of 207 years in prison.

For the crimes at the Ovcara farm, the Hague Tribunal, ICTY, sentenced Mile Mrksic and Veselin Sljivancanin, both colonels of the Yugoslav People’s Army, to 20 and ten years of prison, respectively.

According to the ICTY verdict, passed in May 2009, Mrksic decided to withdraw the JNA officers and soldiers who were guarding prisoners of war at Ovcara on 20 November 1991 thereby enabling the Territorial Defence and paramilitary forces to commit numerous murders.

According to the ICTY verdict,  Sljivancanin, “despite being responsible for the security of prisoners of war and having visited Ovčara at a time when they were being mistreated, did nothing to stop the beatings or to prevent their continuation.”

“He failed to give appropriate directions to military police guarding the prisoners and he failed to secure, or even to seek, their reinforcement,” reads the ICTY verdict passed in 2010.

The trial of Petar Ciric is due start on November 15.

 

 

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Background

Timeline: Cases for War Crimes in Pec Villages

Timeline of events in the case against 13 former Serb fighters charged with committing war crimes in the villages of Cuska, Zahac, Ljubenic and Pavlan in Kosovo in 1999.

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