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Vladimir Kovacevic transferred to the ICTY

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

The Hague, 23 October 2003

Vladimir Kovacevic transferred to the ICTY

Vladimir Kovacevic was transferred to the Detention Unit of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia today, 23 October 2003. His initial appearance will be held at 9:30 a.m. on Monday 27 October 2003 in Courtroom I.

The accused

Vladimir Kovacevic, also known as "Rambo", was born on 15 January 1961 in Niksic, the Socialist Republic of Montenegro. He graduated from the Yugoslav Military Academy for Ground Forces in 1985, and he was appointed as the Commander of the Third Battalion of the JNA 472 (Trebinje) Motorised Brigade in the autumn of 1991. This battalion was subordinated to the command of the Ninth Military Navel Sector (the "Ninth VPS").

Vladimir Kovacevic, one of the co-accused in the Dubrovnik case, was arrested on 25 September in Serbia. As the JNA Commander of the Third Battalion of the JNA Trebinje Brigade at the time of the attack on Dubrovnik, Vladimir Kovacevic was indicted on 27 February 2001 (with the indictment being unsealed on 2 October 2001) and has been a fugitive since then.

In regards to Kovacevic's three co-accused, charges against Milan Zec were withdrawn. Miodrag Jokic voluntarily surrendered on 12 November 2001, was granted provisional release on 20 February 2002 and pleaded guilty on 27 August 2003. His provisional release was continued on 29 August 2003 and a date for the sentencing hearing will be set in due course.

Pavle Strugar voluntarily surrendered on 21 October 2001 and was granted provisional release on 1 December 2002. Trial Chamber I has postponed the commencement of the trial pending a decision to try co-accused Vladimir Kovacevic and Pavle Stugar together.

The Indictment

Factual allegations

The Second Amended Indictment, filed on 17 October 2003 pursuant to a Trial Chamber Decision of 13 October 2003, alleges that forces of the Yugoslav Peoples’ Army ("JNA") under the command of Vladimir Kovacevic and his co-accused launched an attack against the Dubrovnik region of Croatia from Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and from the Adriatic Sea on 1 October 1991. The forces under their command included regular JNA land and naval units, as well as Territorial Defence units from the Republic of Montenegro and the Socialist Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, paramilitary units, police and special police units that were subordinated to the JNA.

It is alleged that between 6 December and 31 December 1991, JNA forces killed and wounded civilians in and around the city of Dubrovnik through acts of unlawful shelling. Further, during the course of the attacks on Dubrovnik from 23 October 1991 through 6 December 1991, hundreds of shells fired by the JNA forces impacted in the Old Town area of the city. The Old Town of Dubrovnik is a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site in its entirety.

An analysis conducted by the Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments, in conjunction with UNESCO, found that, of the 824 buildings in the Old Town, 563 (or 68.33 per cent) had been hit by projectiles in 1991 and 1992. Six buildings were completely destroyed by fire. In 1993, the Institute for the Rehabilitation of Dubrovnik, in conjunction with UNESCO, estimated the total cost for restoring public and private buildings; religious buildings; streets, squares, and fountains; and ramparts, gates, and bridges at 9,657,578 US dollars.


The Indictment charges Vladimir Kovacevic on the basis of the following:

Individual criminal responsibility (Article 7(1) of the Statute of the Tribunal) and superior criminal responsibility (Article 7(3)) with:

six counts of violations of the laws or customs of war (Article 3 – murder; cruel treatment; attacks on civilians; devastation not justified by military necessity; unlawful attacks on civilian objects; destruction or wilful damage done to institutions dedicated to religion, charity, and education, the arts and sciences, historic monuments and works of art and science).

International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia

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