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Veselin Šljivančanin in 1992


Veselin Šljivančanin (Веселин Шљиванчанин) (born 13 June 1953 in Pavez, the municipality of Žabljakmarker, Montenegromarker, Yugoslaviamarker) is a former Montenegrin officer in the Yugoslav People's Army (JNA). In 2007, he was convicted and sentenced to five years in prison by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslaviamarker for his role in the Vukovar massacremarker, which was later extended to 17 years. He is of the Drobnjaci Montenegrin clan.

Vukovar 1991

As a Major of JNA, Šljivančanin took part in the battle of Vukovar which was fought from the end of August until 18 November 1991. He was sentenced by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslaviamarker of being guilty of "aiding and abetting the torture of the prisoners" in the mass killingmarker of about 194 prisoners of Croat ethnicity that followed after the capture of Vukovarmarker. He was sentenced to five years of prison, nearly four of which he has already served in custody. The ICTY sentenced can apply to be released if they served two thirds of their sentence, which will possibly occur with Veselin.

Military background from aftermath

After the fall of Vukovar, he was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel and was placed in command of a brigade of JNA stationed at Podgoricamarker (then still Titogradmarker), Montenegromarker. He was promoted to Colonel in the beginning of 1996 (now in the new national army following the disbanding of the JNA) and transferred to the Military Academy in Belgrademarker, where he served as a lecturer in military tactics. He retired from military service in October 2001.

Indictment

Šljivančanin was indicted in 1995, along with Mile Mrkšić, Miroslav Radić and Slavko Dokmanović, by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslaviamarker (ICTY). The indictment accused him of "responsibility for the mass killing at Ovčaramarker, near Vukovar, of approximately 260 captive non-Serb men", on the following grounds:
  • he was in direct command of Serb forces that took control of the Vukovar Hospital on 18 November 1991 and evacuated people from there over the following days to the Ovčaramarker farm building;
  • he personally directed the selection and removal from the hospital of about 400 non-Serbs whom the JNA suspected to be Croatian paramilitaries;
  • he ordered JNA soldiers under his command to deliver custody of the detainees to other Serb forces who physically executed them.


He was arrested in Belgrade by Serbian authorities on 13 June 2003, as part of the new policy of Serbia and Montenegro in which they agreed to comply with the UN and the ICTYmarker. He was handed over to the ICTY on 1 July. The trial against him commenced in October 2005.

The court's verdict on 27 September 2007, found Šljivančanin guilty of "aiding and abetting the torture of the prisoners" and sentenced him to five years in prison. He was found not-guilty of crimes against humanity, as the court found that the Serbian Territorial Defence and local Serb paramilitaries had carried out the killings. However, Šljivančanin as a JNA officer did not prevent the prisoners' beatings by the local Serb forces.

The sentence caused outrage among the Croatian public and press, with Croatia's political leaders voicing outrage to the verdict. The BBC World Service interviewed one of the administrators of Vukovar's hospital, who likened the trial in the Hague to a civilian court hearing in Croatia, whereby "people who steal cars can be given 20 years in prison."

On 5 May 2009, the court announced it would increase the sentence for Šljivančanin to 17 years for aiding and abetting the murder of prisoners of war after the fall of Vukovar, while his guilt for aiding and abetting torture was reaffirmed. The official statement states that the Appeals Chamber found that the Trial Chamber erred in acquitting Šljivančanin of aiding and abetting murder in Vukovar. The Judge Theodor Meron stated "that Mr. Šljivančanin was under a duty to protect the prisoners of war held at Ovčara and that this responsibility included the obligation not to allow the transfer of custody of the prisoners of a war to anyone without first satisfying himself that they would not be harmed. Mr. Mrkšić’s order to withdraw the JNA troops did not relieve him of his position as an officer of the JNA."

See also



References

  1. ICTY-Appeals Chamber Increases Sentence Against Šljivančanin
  2. Serbs clash over war crimes arrest, BBC News, 13 June 2003
  3. A SUMMARY OF JUDGEMENT FOR MILE MRKŠIĆ, MIROSLAV RADIĆ AND VESELIN ŠLJIVANČANIN
  4. Croatian press slams ‘scandalous’ Vukovar verdict, Gulf Times
  5. Croatian anger at Vukovar verdict, BBC News, 28 September 2007
  6. ICTY-Appeals Chamber Increases Sentence Against Šljivančanin


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