News 21 Jun 17

Serbian ‘Red Berets’ Accused of Bosnia War Crimes

Belgrade’s Humanitarian Law Centre filed criminal complaints against three former fighters from the Serbian Red Berets unit, accusing them of committing war crimes in the Bosnian town of Doboj in 1992.

Doboj. Photo: Wikimedia/Branko Todorovic.

The Humanitarian Law Centre, HLC, filed criminal complaints to the Serbian War Crimes Prosecution on Wednesday against a former high-ranking member of the Serbian interior ministry’s Red Berets unit, Radojica Bozovic, and two other members of the unit over alleged war crimes committed in Doboj between May and August 1992.

The HLC claimed that the men were involved in the deportation of Bosniaks from the village of Bukovacke Civije, near Doboj, a murder of a member of the Croatian National Guard, the robbery of civilians and the torture of civilian prisoners at Doboj’s county jail.

“Until this day, no member of the Red Berets has been prosecuted in domestic courts [in Serbia] for crimes committed during conflicts in the former Yugoslavia. That is why the HLC calls on the [Serbian] War Crimes Prosecution to investigate the claims in the criminal complaint, prosecute those responsible and enable the victims to have the right to the truth after 25 years,” the HLC said in a statement.

The NGO said that a case against Dusan Vukovic, a former guard at the Doboj prison, accused of torturing prisoners, one of whom died, has been ongoing at Belgrade’s High Court since March 2016.

“This case did not include other people responsible for crimes committed at the Doboj prison and in the town itself,” the HLC said.

The HLC also said that while the Serbian War Crimes Prosecution stated in the Vukovic indictment that Red Berets members who committed crimes at the Doboj prison have not been identified, the Hague Tribunal, in its case against Jovica Stanisic, the former chief of the Serbian State Security Service, and his assistant Franko Simatovic, described the crimes committed at the jail and named the main perpetrators.

The prosecutors in the ongoing Hague Tribunal retrial of Stanisic and Simatovic claim that the security service in Belgrade set up, equipped, trained, financed and armed the Red Berets unit, which then committed crimes in towns including Doboj when it was sent to fight in the wars in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia.

The Serbian War Crimes Prosecution must now look into the HLC’s complaints and decide whether there is any basis to open an investigation.

Radojica Bozovic now works as an agent for football players and has been working with tyhe biggest Serbian clubs, Red Star Belgrade, Partizan and Vojvodina.

He previously worked as the head of Montenegrin football club Zeta.

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