Prosecution on Beli Manastir war crimes sentences

BELGRADE -- Serbia's War Crimes Prosecutor Vladimir Vukčević has commented on the sentencing of four former police officers from the eastern Croatian town of Beli Manastir.

The prosecution was only satisfied with the sentence rendered against Zoran Vukšić, and would appeal the other three judgments, he said.

The War Crimes Chamber of the Belgrade District Court sentenced the former policemen to a total of 36 and a half years in prison for the murder of no fewer than six civilians in the Croatian municipality in 1991.

First defendant Zoran Vukšić received the maximum 20 years in prison.

Second defendant Slobodan Strigić was sentenced to a 10 year-term, Branko Hrnjak to five years and Velimir Bertic to 18 months.

Vekarić told reporters that the Prosecutor's Office did not want to see war crimes treated as a simple robbery.

"Here we have all the elements of a war crime, a whole family was murdered and the crime was planned," Vekarić said, noting he saw no mitigating circumstances or traces of humanity in the accused's actions.

Dragan Marković, the Presiding Judge of Trial Chamber, stated that the charges against Vukšić, Strigić, Hrnjak and Bertic had been proven and that they, as members of a special police unit in the Serb Autonomous Region of Eastern Slavonia, Baranja and Western Srem, were responsible for the killing of at least six non-Serb civilians.

The victims included all four members of the Cicak family - Vinko, Ivana, Ante and Mate, as well as Adam Baric and an unarmed elderly civilian, Ivo Malek.

The accused were also charged with illegal detention, violation of bodily integrity, intimidation, terror, torture and inhuman treatment of civilians.

Back in 2008, the Croatian State Prosecutor's Office handed over the case from the Osijek County Court to the Serbian War Crimes Prosecutor's Office, based on the Agreement on Cooperation in Prosecuting Perpetrators of War Crimes, Crimes against Humanity and Genocide.