Ex-Territorial Defense member sentenced to 15 years

BELGRADE -- The Belgrade District Court's War Crimes Chamber on Monday convicted former member of the Vukovar Territorial Defense Petar Ćirić to 15 years in prison.

The defendant was found guilty of involvement in a war crime committed in the vicinity of the eastern Croatian city in November 1991, when at least 193 war prisoners were tortured and killed at Ovčara farm

Since Ćirić was previously convicted by a Novi Sad court to ten years in prison for another crime, the court now combined the two sentences into one 20 year stretch.

Judge Rastko Popovic said at the sentencing that Ćirić is guilty of beating Croatian prisoners, and later shooting and killing them.

Ćirić and the prosecution have the right to appeal to the Belgrade Appellate Court.

The judge read out the names of all 193 identified victims out of the 200 killed at Ovčara.

In addition to Ćirić, charges were brought against another ten people who have already been convicted, as well as several unidentified individuals.

According to the indictment, the crime took place between the afternoon hours of November 20 and the early morning of November 21, 1991.

The Serbian War Crimes Prosecutor's Office has charged 20 people for the murder of 200 Croat civilians at Ovčara. Of these, 15 have been sentenced to a total of 207 years in prison, while five were acquitted.