News 29 Jan 18

Croatian Serb Policemen Accused of Raping Roma Women

Serbia’s Humanitarian Law Centre NGO filed a criminal complaint accusing Croatian Serb policemen of the wartime rape of six Roma women, one of whom was pregnant and three of whom were underage.

Filip Rudic
BIRN
Belgrade
Beli Manastir town centre. Photo: Plamen/Wikimedia Commons.

The Humanitarian Law Centre said on Monday that it has filed a complaint accusing several unnamed members of the police force of the self-proclaimed Republic of Serbian Krajina wartime statelet of raping the six Roma women in the Croatian town of Beli Manastir in 1993.

According to the complaint, the women were arrested near a UN peacekeepers’ base and taken to the cellar of the Beli Manastir police station, where the police shaved their heads, insulted, beat and raped them.

“One underage girl was forced to drink hot water. Due to the fact that she was raped, the pregnant woman lost her child, while another underage girl’s eardrum was hurt during the police beating,” the HLC said in a press release.

A Serbian court in 2016 found four Serb policemen guilty of murdering at least five Croat civilians, as well as illegal detaining, intimidating, torturing, terrorising and inhumanely treating other civilians at the Beli Manastir police station from August 1991 until the end of that year.

Policemen Zoran Vuksic, Slobodan Strigic, Branko Hrnjak and Velimir Bertic were sentenced to 20, 10, five and one-and-a-half years in prison respectively.

The rape of women in the summer of 1993 was not part of these charges, and it remains unknown if the crime was investigated at all, the HLC said.

Only seven cases of sexual abuse during the wars in the former Yugoslavia have ever been heard by Serbian courts, it added.

“The HLC therefore appeals to the War Crimes Prosecutor’s Office to investigate the allegations from the complaint, charge those responsible and contribute to ending the silence about the sex crimes committed during the conflicts,” it said.

The War Crimes Prosecutor’s Office must now decide whether or not to raise charges based on the criminal complaint.

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