Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Giving Voice, Driving Change

Radak retrial, Srebrenica remembrance, Captian Dragan extradition

By IWPR reporters in The Hague (TU No 497, 13-Apr-07)
By IWPR
Serbia’s Supreme Court has ordered the retrial of a former paramilitary member, Sasa Radak, convicted of killing prisoners during the 1991 siege of the Croatian town of Vukovar.



The Tanjug news agency reported that the court overturned the 20-year sentence handed down by the Belgrade war crimes court last September, citing “serious breaches of criminal trial regulations”.



According to Tanjug, the court ruled that “the verdict was based on insufficiently established facts”.



Radak was found guilty of participating in the November 1991 execution of 200 Croatian prisoners in Ovcara, near Vukovar. The victims were machine- gunned and their bodies buried in a pit at a pig farm in Ovcara.



Fourteen other members of local territorial defence units and volunteers were tried separately for the same crimes. Their 20-year sentences were all overturned in December last year and their retrial began in March. All have pleaded not guilty to the charges.



Radak will remain in custody until his new trial begins.



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Survivors of the 1995 Srebrenica massacre this week appealed to Bosnian authorities to make the anniversary of the biggest single atrocity in Europe since World War II a national day of remembrance.



A group representing Srebrenica survivors and relatives of the victims sent this request to Bosnia's central government and parliament.



Members of the Bosnian joint presidency have also been asked to support this initiative.



Some 8,000 Muslim men and boys were killed in July 1995, when Srebrenica fell to Bosnian Serb forces on July 11, 1995.



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An Australian court has decided to extradite to Croatia former Serb paramilitary leader Dragan Vasiljković, accused of having committed war crimes in Croatia in the early Nineties.



As Belgrade Television B92 reported this week, Vasiljković, also known as Captain Dragan, has 15 days to appeal the decision in Australia's Federal Court.



Croatia holds Vasiljković responsible for torturing and killing Croat soldiers and civilians when he commanded a Serb paramilitary unit during Croatia's 1991-95 war of independence.



The Croatian authorities believe he was a Serb paramilitary leader, personally responsible for a number of serious war crimes committed in the early 1990s.



He is accused of commanding a unit of the Serbian Red Beret paramilitaries, which allegedly killed civilians, raped women and executed hospital patients.



According to court documents, he had lived in Australia since 1969 but left the country in the early 1990s to fight in the Balkans.



After the war, Vasiljkovic returned to live in Perth in Western Australia, where he worked as a golf instructor until his arrest in January last year.



If he fails to win an appeal against the ruling, Vasiljkovic will become the first person to be extradited from Australia to face war crimes charges.

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