Yugoslav tribunal increases sentence in Vukovar caseRNW International Justice Desk
Posted by sarkout on May 31 2009 18:33:56
Yugoslav tribunal increases sentence in Vukovar caseRNW International Justice Desk

The Yugoslav war crimes court has ruled that former Yugoslav army officer Veselin Sljivancanin should serve an additional 12 years in prison for his role in the 1991 Vukovar killings.

The appeals chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) found Sljivancanin's original conviction for torture inadequate and jailed him for aiding and abetting the murder of prisoners of war after the fall of the Croatian town of Vukovar in 1991.

His sentence was increased from 5 years to 17 years.

Sljivancanin (56) was provisionally released in December after four years in custody in The Hague.

He returned to The Hague for Tuesday's ruling which also upheld a sentence against his superior, Mile Mrksic.

Mrksic (62), a former Yugoslav army colonel, is serving 20 years for aiding and abetting the murder and torture of prisoners, as well as allowing inhumane conditions of detention.

The two men were convicted in September 2007 for their role in the execution of 194 non-Serbs seeking refuge at a Vukovar hospital in 1991.

A third accused in the Vukovar case, Miroslav Radić, was acquitted of all charges and the Prosecution filed no appeal.

Prosecutors had appealed for heavier sentences against both convicted men, who had also appealed against their convictions.

The appeals chamber dismissed all eleven counts of appeal lodged by the defendants but allowed one of the four prosecution appeals, partially granted two and dismissed one.

It found that the Hague trial chamber had erred when it acquitted Sljivancanin of aiding and abetting the murders and only convicted him of aiding and abetting torture.

Vukovar killings
The original trial heard that the Yugoslav People's Army (JNA) had besieged Vukovar from August to November 1991, during which time some 1,000 of the city's residents were killed and another 5,000 taken prisoner.

In the last days of the siege, several hundred people sought refuge at the city's hospital, hoping to be evacuated in the presence of international observers.

But on 20 November, JNA soldiers loaded about 400 prisoners on to buses and took them to a pig farm in nearby Ovcara where at least 194 were beaten and later killed.

After the killings, the bodies of the victims were buried in a mass grave.

Mrksic was initially found guilty of aiding and abetting the murders as he had ordered the withdrawal of the JNA soldiers guarding the prisoners. He was also found to have failed to act effectively to ensure that the prisoners were properly protected or treated, the trial chamber found.

Šljivančanin was found guilty of aiding and abetting torture because he failed to secure adequate JNA guards at Ovčara or to ensure that JNA guards at Ovčara under his authority acted to prevent the Serb forces from beating the prisoners.
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