news 30 Nov 12

Novska Killings Retrial Starts

The retrial of two former Croatian soldiers charged with killing three women in the central Croatian town of Novska in 1991 has started in Zagreb.

Boris Pavelic

Zeljko Belina and Dejan Milic, former members of the 1st Guards Brigade of the Croatian army, known as "Tigers", are charged with killing Vera Mileusnic and her daughter Goranka and their neighbour, Blazenka Slabak.

Petar Mileusnic, Vera's husband and Goranka's father, was shot, but survived his injuries.

According to the indictment, on December 18, 1991, several soldiers entered the Mileusics’ family home in the town of Novska.

The soldiers tortured and killed Slabak and Vera and Goranka Mileusnic. They shot Petar form the gun in his face, but he managed to escape and survive.

The five perpetrators were arrested and tried for murder in front of the military tribunal in 1992. In the late 1992 they were acquitted under the Croatian Amnesty law.

In 2008, the Croatian daily newspaper Novi List published the story about the Mileusnic case.

Two years later, in September 2010, the County Court in Sisak tried four former "Tiger" members, Zeljko Belina, Dejan Milic, Ivan Grgic and Zdravko Plesec, for that crime, but this time they were charged with war crime, not a murder.

The court acquitted all of four men, deciding that the case was "res judicata"- the matter cannot be raised again, either in the same court or in a different court.

However, the Croatian Supreme Court quashed the sentence for Belina and Milic, and sent a case for a retrial, which started on Wednesday at the County Court in Zagreb.

The Trial Chamber, presided over by judge Marijan Garac, refused the prosecution’s request for Belina and Milic to be order into custody.

The two defendants pleaded not guilty, while their defence argued that the alleged offence cannot be classified as a war crime.

The trial continues on January 23 next year, when the first witnesses are due to testify.



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