A new Ovcara trial opens without the victims

19 March 2007 by Drago Hedl

The families of 200 people massacred at Ovcara, near Vukovar, in November 1991, were conspicuous by their absence when the trial started over again on March 12 before the Special Court for War Crimes in Belgrade. The families are demanding that the Croatian government pay their travel expenses, after having refused assistance from the Belgrade Humanitarian Law Center. At the end of the first trial in 2005, 16 defendants were sentenced to a total of 231 years in prison for what was the worst war crime committed on Croatian territory during the war in former Yugoslavia. However, on December 14, 2006, the Supreme Court of Belgrade reversed that judgment and ordered a new trial, provoking indignation from the victims.

"We sent a letter to the Croatian government and the Ministry of Justice asking them to help finance our stay in Belgrade, but they did not respond," regrets Ivan Psenica, whose organization brings together the families of the victims. "If our government thinks we should be here, then they must help us." During the 2005 trial, some 15 families of the Croatian victims made daily visits to the Belgrade Special Court for War Crimes, where, from the public gallery, they were able to see the alleged murderers of their husbands, brothers and sons. This confrontation with the details of the crimes that caused the death of their loved ones was their only chance to find out how this happened. 

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