Press Release • Communiqué de presse
(Exclusively for the use of the media. Not an official document)
THREE "JNA" OFFICERS FROM A BELGRADE- BASED BRIGADE CHARGED WITH THE
MASS KILLING OF NON-SERB MEN FORCIBLY REMOVED FROM THE VUKOVAR HOSPITAL
The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia announces today the indictment of three senior officers of the Yugoslav Peoples Army (JNA) allegedly responsible "for the mass killing at Ovcara, near Vukovar (Eastern Slavonian region of Croatia) of approximately 260 captive non-Serb men who had been removed from Vukovar Hospital on 20 November 1991".
The three indicted accused are :
- Mile MRKSIC (born in 1947), at that time a colonel in the JNA and commander of the Belgrade-based Guards Brigade, a JNA unit with primary responsibility for the attack (summer and autumn 1991) and subsequent occupation of Vukovar (after the fall of the city on 18 November 1991). After the siege of Vukovar, he was promoted to the rank of general with the Yugoslav Army (JA) before becoming in 1995 the commanding officer of the "Army of the Republic of Serb Krajina".
- Miroslav RADIC (approximately 35 years old), at that time a captain in the JNA and commanding a special infantry unit which was a component of the Guards Brigade.
- Veselin SLJIVANCANIN (born in 1953), at that time a major in the JNA and serving as the security officer for the Guards Brigade. Since then, he has been promoted to the rank of colonel with the Yugoslav Army (JA) and is now in command of a JA Brigade in Podgorica (Montenegro).
THE FACTS ALLEGED IN THE INDICTMENT
On 20 November 1991, two days after the fall of Vukovar, soldiers of the Yugoslav People’s Army(JNA) Belgrade-based Guards Brigade and Serb paramilitary troops under the command or supervision of Mile MRKSIC, Veselin SLJIVANCANIN and Miroslav RADIC, removed 261 non-Serb men from the Vukovar Hospital and then transported them to a farm building in Ovcara, where they beat the men for several hours. Afterwards, the men were transported in groups of 10-20 to a site between the Ovcara farm and Grabovo where JNA and Serb paramilitary soldiers shot and killed them. After the killings, the bodies of the victims were buried by a bulldozer in a mass grave at Ovcara.
The 261 victims consisted of wounded patients, hospital staff, soldiers who had been defending the city, Croatian political activists, and other civilians.
All of these men were alive after the end of hostilities in Vukovar, and all of these men were taken under JNA guard first to the JNA barracks and then to the Ovcara farm. They have not been seen alive since that time. The names of these men, with their fathers’s names in parenthesis, and their dates of birth are listed in the indictment.
This indictment relates to an investigation which commenced in the summer of 1994. The investigators, attorneys, analysts and translators from the Office of the Prosecutor have received the co-operation of the Croatian authorities.
Addressing one specific event (the Vukovar hospital massacre), this investigation is part of a larger investigation into the siege and the take-over of Vukovar by the JNA in 1991. The investigation is still ongoing and it is likely that further indictments will be presented during 1996.
THE CRIMES AND THE CHARGES
The indictment alleges that Mile MRKSIC, Miroslav RADIC and Veselin SLJIVANCANIN are criminally responsible for the beatings and the killings of the non-Serb men removed from the Vukovar Hospital and who were later executed at Ovcara and buried in a mass grave.
Each of the accused is alleged to be individually responsible for the criminal acts charged in the indictment. Individual criminal responsibility includes committing, planning, instigating, ordering or otherwise aiding and abetting in the planning, preparation or execution of the crimes.
Each of the accused is also criminally responsible for the acts of their subordinates, namely the accused knew or had reason to know that their subordinates were about to commit criminal acts and they failed to take measures to prevent such acts by their subordinates. The accused are also responsible for not punishing their subordinates in respect of the criminal acts committed whilst under the command of the accused.
"By their acts and omissions", Mile MRKSIC, Miroslav RADIC and Veselin SLJIVANCANIN are charged with:
1. Grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions of 1949 for wilfully causing of great suffering to, and the wilful killing of, the victims, who were protected persons under the Geneva Conventions.
2. Violations of the laws or customs of war, for cruel treatment and murder of the victims.
3. Crimes against humanity, for inhumane acts and murders of the victims, committed in armed conflict and as a part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against a civilian population.
THE INDICTMENT AND THE PROCEDURE
The Prosecutor filed this indictment with the Registry on Monday 30 October 1995.
The indictment was reviewed by Judge Fouad Riad who confirmed it on Tuesday 7
November 1995, and who signed warrants for the arrest of the accused.
The warrants will be forwarded to the relevant authorities in Belgrade.