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Courtside: Vukovar Case

By Vjera Bogati in The Hague (TU 289, 11-16 November, 2002)
By IWPR

Prosecutors allege Mrksic and his two co-accused - VJ officers Veselin Sljivancanin and Miroslav Radic - conspired to persecute and exterminate their victims.


The three men are alleged to have supervised an operation by Serb troops to take at least 200 non-Serbs from Vukovar hospital and transport them to a farm building at Ovcara, close to the town.


It is claimed that the victims were then beaten and tortured, and later taken to a nearby field and executed. The bodies of at least 198 men and two women were buried at a mass grave at the same site.


At the time, Mrksic commanded the Guards Brigade, which had primary responsibility for the attack on Vukovar.


After the siege of the city, he was promoted from colonel to general and later took command of army of the "Republic of Serb Krajina" – a Serb breakaway region of Croatia.


The indictment charges the three men with crimes against humanity, but a second charge - of grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions - has been dropped to cut the trial time.


Mrksic, 64, who lived in Yugoslavia, surrendered voluntarily to The Hague in May 2002. His two co-accused, who remain at large, were singled out by tribunal president Judge Claude Jorda last month when he told the UN Security Council that Belgrade was not cooperating because it was refusing to hand such men over.


The first war crimes trial dealing with Vukovar began in 1998, but stopped a few days prior to judgement when the accused, Slavko Dokmanovic, a local Serb politician accused of aiding and abetting the killings, committed suicide.


Vjera Bogati is an IWPR special correspondent in The Hague and a journalist with SENSE news agency.


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