Veselin Sljivancanin's counsel has asked the ICTY for a review of the decision in his case on the basis of “a new fact” that has emerged since the Appeals Chamber handed down its May 2009 ruling.
Sljivancanin's counsel believes that the statement they have come across could "quash" his verdict.
On May 5, 2009, the Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, ICTY, sentenced Sljivancanin to 17 years in prison for crimes committed near Vukovar, Croatia in 1991.
The court said that Sljivancanin ordered the transportation of prisoners in order to be exchanged, but Mile Mrksic changed his order.
In the motion that was filed on January 28 at the ICTY, Sljivancanin's counsel said that “a new fact was discovered after the judgment was rendered”.
According to the motion, Miodrag Panic, former chief of staff of Sljivancanin’s unit, has since come forward saying that “Mrksic did not tell Sljivancanin about any order he had issued to remove JNA soldiers protecting the prisoners of war at Ovcara”.
During the war in Croatia, Sljivancanin was a major in the Yugoslav People’s Army, JNA, but after the fall of Vukovar he was promoted to lieutenant colonel. The Appeals Chamber found him guilty “of aiding and abetting the murder of 194 individuals at Ovčara”.
According to the ICTY judgement, on November 20, 1991, JNA soldiers removed about 400 non-Serbs from the Vukovar hospital. Some detainees were taken to a farm building in Ovcara, south of Vukovar. There soldiers beat them and then transported them to a ravine in the direction of Grabovo, a village close to Ovcara, where they killed “at least 264”. After the killings, the bodies of the victims were buried by bulldozer in a mass grave at the same location.
The defendant's counsel considers the new information “extremely important” and in “direct contradiction” with the Appeals Chamber decision. According to the defense team, this can “remove the basis for Sljivancanin’s conviction.”
Lawyers for Sljivancanin are requesting that the Appeals Chamber hear the testimony of Mr. Panic and “quash Sljivančanin’s conviction”.
Previously this month, the Appeals Chamber dismissed a motion filed last fall, noting that the decision that Sljivancanin wanted reconsidered was ‘final’.
A first instance chamber sentenced him on September 2007 to five years' imprisonment, but after the prosecution appealed the verdict, the Appeals Chamber heard the case and increased Sljivancanin's sentence.
Sljivancanin was arrested in June 2003 by Serbian authorities and transferred to ICTY in July of the same year.
He was on trial together with Miroslav Radic, a former JNA captain who was found not guilty, and Mile Mrksic, a former colonel in the JNA, who was sentenced to 20 years' imprisonment.
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