Croatian Serbs Try Serb Couple on ‘War Crimes’
BELGRADE, Yugoslavia (AP) _ Self-proclaimed authorities in Serb-held Croatia began proceedings Wednesday against an ethnic Serb couple accused of murdering civilians during Croatia’s 1991 war.
The hearing in Beli Manastir, in northeastern Croatia, was billed as a war-crimes trial, though Serb-held Croatia has no statehood and no recognized judiciary.
Serb authorities in Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Serbia say they do not recognize the international tribunal in the Netherlands, created by the United Nations to deal with war crimes in the former Yugoslavia. Serbs have said they would handle such cases on their own.
The Belgrade-based news agency Tanjug said Dusan Boljevic, 47, a restaurateur-turned-militiaman, was accused of killing 18 Croats and ethnic Hungarians in their homes between October and December 1991.
Boljevic’s wife, Jagoda, 45, is accused of giving her husband victims’ addresses and standing guard during some of the killings. The couple also is accused of robbing their victims.
They could be executed if convicted by the panel of two judges and three citizens.
Though Boljevic was charged in all 18 deaths, ballistics evidence proves only that he killed five, Tanjug said.
Croatia’s ethnic Serb minority, backed by the Yugoslav federal army, fought a six-month war in 1991 over the Zagreb government’s secession from the Yugoslav federation. Since then, about one-third of Croatian territory has been held by Serbs under a January 1992 U.N.-brokered truce.