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Vinko Martinovic (''Stela'') surrendered to ICTY by the Republic of Croatia

Press Release

(Exclusively for the use of the media. Not an official document)

The Hague, 9 August 1999
CC/ P.I.S./427-e

Vinko Martinovic ("Stela") surrendered to ICTY by the Republic of Croatia

On Monday 9 August 1999, Vinko Martinovic, also known as "Stela", was transferred from the custody of the Croatian authorities to the ICTY’s Detention Unit.

This surrender follows the joint indictment, on 21 December 1998, of Vinko Martinovic and Mladen Naletilic, also known as "Tuta", for their alleged involvement in the "ethnic cleansing" of the Mostar municipality (Bosnia and Herzegovina) in 1993 and 1994. However, only Vinko Martinovic has been surrendered to the ICTY by the Republic of Croatia.

The next legal step is the initial appearance of the accused before a Trial Chamber in order to enter a plea on each of the counts in the indictment brought against him. This hearing is being scheduled and will be announced in due time.


"The Prosecutor welcomes the surrender today by the Government of Croatia of the indicted accused Vinko Martinovic (also known as " Stela"), who has been in custody facing domestic criminal charges in Croatia since early 1997.

In December 1998 the Prosecutor, Justice Arbour jointly indicted the accused Martinovic with a co-accused, Mladen Naletilic (also known as "Tuta"). The indictment against Martinovic and Naletilic alleges that they were responsible for war crimes committed in Mostar in 1993.

In bringing this joint indictment against both accused it was, and still remains, the Prosecutor’s intention that they be tried together. Otherwise the Tribunal will be forced to have two separate trials, which having regard to the scarce trial resources of the Tribunal, will inevitably involve increased delays in respect of other accused in custody awaiting trial. Nor will separate trials serve the interests of the victims and witnesses who will have to testify twice. The Prosecutor takes the position that it is not in the interests of international criminal justice to have multiple trials in respect of one single indictment.

In this regard, the accused Naletilic is currently in custody in Croatia, having been arrested in early 1997 in relation to domestic crimes. There is a clear obligation on the Croatian Government to co-operate with the Tribunal and to comply with its orders, including the order relating to the surrender of the accused Naletilic, so that he can stand trial with the accused Martinovic.

Now that the accused Martinovic is before the Tribunal, the Prosecutor calls upon the Government of Croatia to act promptly in the surrender of the co-accused Naletilic, so that the joint trial of both accused can proceed."


According to the indictment, Vinko Martinovic ("Stela") was born on 21 September 1963 in Bosnia and Herzegovina and "acquired the citizenship of the Republic of Croatia, which he maintains to date". A commander in the Croatian Defence Forces (HOS) militia in Mostar in 1992, Vinko Martinovic later joined the special unit "Kaznjenicka Bojna" (KB, Convicts’ Battalion) founded in 1991 by Mladen Naletilic. The KB was composed of approximately 200 to 300 soldiers grouped in several sub-units, called ATG or ATJ (Anti-terrorist Group or Unit) with bases around Mostar. Vinko Martinovic became the commander of the sub-unit ATG "Mrmak", later named "Vinko Skrobo".

The main tasks of the KB "were combat missions on the front-line, expulsions and attacks against Bosnian Muslim civilians in the territories" in Bosnia and Herzegovina occupied by the HV (the army of the Republic of Croatia) and the HVO (the executive, administrative and defence body of the then Croatian community of Herceg-Bosna).


According to the indictment,


" 10) On 9 May 1993, the HV and HVO, including the KB, launched a large military offensive

against the Bosnian Muslim population of Mostar and the positions of the ABiH in the city, provoking the start of an armed conflict with the ABiH in the municipality of Mostar. Subsequently the Bosnian Muslim population was the target of a broad campaign of violence in the areas of Mostar occupied by the HV and HVO, lasting at least until the cease-fire and peace agreements of February and March 1994. Across the confrontation line, the ABiH held section of the city was under siege by the HV and HVO forces, who were shelling intensely the area and preventing the arrival of humanitarian aid and basic supplies. Mladen Naletilic, as commander of the KB,M and Vinko Martinovic, as commander of the "Mrmak" or "Vinko Skrobo" sub-unit of the KB were leading perpetrators of this campaign against the Bosnian Muslim population.

11) The goal of this campaign by the HV and HVO forces, commonly referred to as "ethnic cleansing", was to gain control of the municipalities of Mostar, Jablanica and others in Bosnia Herzegovina and to force the Bosnian Muslim population to leave these territories or to substantially reduce and subjugate this population. The means used for this purpose included killings, beatings, torture, evictions, destruction of cultural and religious heritage, looting, deprivation of basic civil and human rights, and mass expulsions, detentions and imprisonments, all of them executed following a systematic pattern of ethnic discrimination. As a result of this campaign, tens of thousands of Bosnian Muslims abandoned Mostar, Jablanica and other municipalities in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The traditional ethnic diversity of these municipalities was virtually eliminated, and an ethnically homogeneous society and institutions were imposed in these areas."


Vinko Martinovic is charged on the basis of individual criminal responsibility, pursuant to Article 7(1) of the Statute of the Tribunal, as a "person who planned, instigated, ordered, committed or otherwise aided and abetted in the planning, preparation or execution of a crime", and superior criminal responsibility, pursuant to Article 7(3 of the Statute), for the acts of his subordinates, in that "he knew or had reason to know that the subordinate was about to commit such acts or had done so and the superior failed to take the necessary and reasonable measures to prevent such acts or to punish the perpetrators thereof", with:

Five counts of crimes against humanity (Article 5 of the Statute), namely, persecutions on political, racial and religious grounds; inhumane acts; murder; torture, nine counts of grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions (Article 3 of the Statute), namely, cruel treatment; unlawful labour; murder; wanton destruction not justified by military necessity; plunder of public or private property; seizure, destruction or wilful damage done to institutions dedicated to religion, and eight counts of violations of the laws or customs of war (Article 2 of the Statute), namely, inhuman treatment; wilful killing; torture; wilfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health; unlawful transfer of a civilian; extensive destruction of property.


International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia

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