Lenient verdict for the "Vukovar Three"

08 October 2007 by HEIKELINA VERRIJN STUART

On September 27, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia sentenced Mile Mrksic, former colonel in the Yugoslavian army, to 20 years in prison for aiding and abetting the torture and murder of 200 people, mostly Croats, at the Ovcara farm, near Vukovar, Croatia. Veselin Slivancanin received 5 years in prison for aiding and abetting torture, whereas Captain Miroslav Radic was acquitted, due to lack of evidence. Despite the judges' precautions, the verdict against the "Vukovar Three" provoked outrage among Croats.

The Ovcara massacre is still considered one of the worst crimes committed by the Serbs during the wars in the former Yugoslavia. On November 20, 1991, civilians and soldiers wounded in battle against the Serbian-dominated JNA (Yugoslav army) were joined at Vukovar hospital by their relatives and combatants seeking refuge. The town and the hospital were taken by the Serbs under the eyes of international observers. What started as an evacuation of civilians and combatants from the hospital to Croatian territory ended in nightmare. Due to the withdrawal of Mrksic's men that evening, 200 non-Serbs fell into the hands of local Serbian units, mainly Territorial Defense (TO) and the Arkan and Seselj paramilitaries. The military evacuation became a killing frenzy.

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