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Approximately 1,400 civilians were killed in the area of responsibility of the 37th Brigade of the Yugoslav Army in Kosovo in 1999. The mortal remains of a number of victims were discovered in mass graves in Serbia. The present Chief of General Staff of the Serbian Army, Ljubiša Diković, was the Commander of the Brigade at this time. Neither he nor any members of his unit have been held accountable for these crimes.

The evidence showing the presence and the role of the Yugoslav Army in the mass killings of civilians in Izbica, Čirez, Savarine, Rezala and other villages in the Drenica region is presented in the film titled “Ljubiša Diković and the 37th Brigade in Kosovo”, made by the Humanitarian Law Center. This evidence has already been presented in the “Ljubiša Diković” and “Rudnica” Dossiers.

A number of TV services in Serbia, including the public broadcasters Radio and Television of Serbia and Radio and Television of Vojvodina, have refused or have not responded to the request that they screen the film. For this reason, the film will be posted on the HLC’s webpage and youtube channel on Tuesday, February 21st at 11.

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On January 31st, 2017, the Humanitarian Law Center (HLC) filed a criminal complaint with the Office of the War Crimes Prosecutor for a crime against prisoners of war committed against members of the Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) in July 1993, at Golo Brdo on Mount Igman in Bosnia.

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Since 2001, mass graves containing the bodies of 941 Kosovo Albanians, mainly civilians killed outside combat situations in Kosovo during 1999, have been found on four locations in Serbia. 744 bodies of Kosovo Albanians have been discovered in Batajnica, on the outskirts of Belgrade, at least 61 in Petrovo Selo, and 84 at Lake Perućac. At least 52 bodies have been subsequently found in the mass grave at Rudnica.

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On December 22nd, 2016, the Humanitarian Law Center (HLC) presented its sixth dossier in a row on possible perpetrators of war crimes committed during the armed conflicts in the former Yugoslavia. The “Šljivovica and Mitrovo Polje” Dossier presents evidence on the treatment of Bosniaks, who sought shelter in Serbia following the fall of Žepa in late July 1995, and on the responsibility of members of the Yugoslav Army (VJ) and the Serbian Ministry of the Interior (MUP) for the crimes committed against the arrested and detained Bosniaks during their stay in Serbia. The Dossier is founded on statements given by surviving detainees, authentic documents of the Republic of Srpska Army, and military and police documents, which were admitted as evidence in a number of cases conducted before the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY), as well as on statements given by representatives of Serbian army and police and members of the international community, before the ICTY, the International Court of Justice and the First Basic Court in Belgrade.

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The Humanitarian Law Center (HLC) filed a criminal complaint on November 2, 2016, with the Office of the War Crimes Prosecutor of the Republic of Serbia, for a war crime committed in October 1991 against Croat civilians in the village of Lovas in Croatia (CRO).

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On 27 October 2016, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) rejected the application lodged on behalf of 67 Bosniaks, who during 1995 and 1996 were detained in the Šljivovica and Mitrovo Polje camps in Serbia, and consequently refused to determine whether the investigation of Serbian government bodies into their ill-treatment was adequate. The Humanitarian Law Center (HLC), who represented the former detainees in this case, considers that this decision of the ECtHR leaves thousands of victims of yet unprosecuted crimes without protection and offers the Serbian judiciary an excuse for their current and future inactivity when it comes to war crimes prosecution.

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The Humanitarian Law Center (HLC) and theAssociation of Family Members of Missing Persons from Ilijaš filed a criminal complaint with the Republic of Serbia Office of the War Crimes Prosecutor on May 17th, 2016, for crimes against humanity and war crimes committed during 1992 against the non-Serb population in the Municipality of Ilijaš, Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H).

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The Chamber of the Department for War Crimes of the Higher Court in Belgrade rendered a ruling on May 18th, 2016, dismissing the request for the arrest and extradition of three officials from the Serbian Radical Party, namely Petar Jojić, Vjerica Radeta and Jovo Ostojić, to the International Criminal Tribunal For the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY), to stand trial in the case of Contempt of Court, with the explanation that the legal requirements for granting this request have not been met.

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Open access to archives which contain documents that can assist in determining the facts about past human rights violations is a key prerequisite for the establishment of transitional justice processes and mechanisms. In societies like the Serbian, which have experienced periods marked by systematic violence, access to information regarding human rights violations is an essential element of the right of victims and society as a whole to know the truth.

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One of the allegations in the lawsuit claiming violation of the right to reputation and honour filed by the Chief of the General Staff of the Serbian Army (VS), Ljubiša Diković, against the Humanitarian Law Center (HLC) and its founder Nataša Kandić, before the First Basic Court in Belgrade, relates to the position he held in the Yugoslav Army during 1994 and 1995. In the challenged part of the “Ljubiša Diković Dossier” produced by the HLC, it is alleged that in the period in question, General Diković was the Commander of the 16th Border Battalion of the Yugoslav Army (VJ), members of which arrested Bosniak refugees from Bosnia in July 1995 and handed them over to the Bosnian Serb Army, after which some of them were killed. Diković claimed[available in Serbian] before the court that he was discharged from the position of Commander of the 16th Border Battalion on July 28th, 1994, by order of the Chief of Personal Administration.

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The First Basic Court in Belgrade has rendered a judgementupholding in part the lawsuit filed by the Serbian Army Chief of General Staff for the compensation of damages caused by the psychological pain suffered due to the violation of his honour and reputation inflicted by the Humanitarian Law Center (HLC), who published allegedly false factual accusations in the ‘Ljubiša Diković Dossier’, and Nataša Kandić, who exposed in public allegedly false factual accusations and value judgements, which were of an offensive nature and violated human dignity. The Court granted the amount of 550,000 RSD in damages, assessing that the amount requested (1,000,000 RSD) was set too high.

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The Higher Court in Belgrade War Crimes Department rendered a first instance judgment in the repeated trial of the Bijeljina II Case on November 24th, 2015, acquitting Miodrag Živković once again of the charges related to the commission of a war crime against a civilian population. The Humanitarian Law Center (HLC) emphasizes that this judgment represents part of the negative score of the national judiciary in the prosecution of cases of wartime sexual violence, and also a continuation of the practice of departing from the international standards set in such cases.

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The Republic of Serbia Ministry of Justice published the

Draft National Strategy for the Prosecution of War Crimes for the period 2016-2020 (Draft Strategy) in November 2015 , in accordance with the Action Plan for Chapter 23, and then opened apublic debate, which was closed on December 31st, 2015. The Humanitarian Law Center (HLC) holds that, even though the Draft Strategy does recognize some of the key shortcomings in the current work of the institutions responsible for the prosecution of war crimes and foresees some good solutions for overcoming these shortcomings, it still fails to establish the key measures for the achievement of the primary objective, which is the more efficient prosecution of war crimes; and therefore it significantly dilutes its potential.

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The Higher Court in Niš delivered a judgment on February 17th, 2016 finding the accused Shyqer Maloku, Xhafer Gashi, Demush Gacaferi, Dem Maloku, Argon Isufi, Anton Quni, Alija Rabit and Rustem Berisha, who were tried in absentia, guilty of the criminal offence of terrorism and sentencing each of them to 15 years of imprisonment. The Humanitarian Law Center (HLC) highlights that a distinctive mark of this case was the presence of some illogicalities and serious legal faults emerging from the erroneous qualification of the criminal act and the decision to prosecute the accused in absentia.

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On Thursday, March 3, 2016, the Humanitarian Law Center (HLC) presented the Report on War Crimes Trials in Serbia in 2014 and 2015, and organised a debate on this occasion. The Report includes an analysis of 27 cases that were conducted before the courts in Serbia, the general findings about the war crimes trials, and an overview of the sociopolitical events that were of importance to the war crimes trials in Serbia in the said period.

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The Humanitarian Law Center (HLC) presented the „Operation Reka“ Dossier on October 23rd, 2015. The Dossier offers an overview of the events which occurred on April 27th and 28th, 1999, in the villages located west of the town of Đakovica in Kosovo, when the comprehensive joint operation by Yugoslav Army (VJ) and the Ministry of the Interior (MUP) called „Operation Reka“ was launched. During this Operation, members of the Serbian forces killed at least 350 civilians – Kosovo Albanians, and deported several thousand other civilians to Albania. The bodies of 309 victims were found in 2001 in secret mass grave sites in a suburb of Belgrade. The youngest victim was 15 years old.

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On 17 August 2015, the Humanitarian Law Center (HLC) filed criminal charges against two unidentified members of the 86thDetachment of the Special Police Unit (SPU) of the Ministry of the Interior of the Republic of Serbia (MoI), on reasonable suspicion that they killed 53 ethnic Albanian civilians, including 24 women and 23 children, on 17 April 1999 in the village of Poklek (Municipality of Glogovac). Criminal charges were also filed against Dragan Obradovic, former commander of the 86th Detachment of the SPU, and against the commander of the company which the perpetrators belonged to, on the charges of not preventing the crime and not punishing the perpetrators.

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On January 29, 2015 the Humanitarian Law Center (HLC) presented the “Rudnica” Dossier. The Dossier offers an insight into the evidence on four crimes committed in April and May 1999 in Kosovo by members of the Yugoslav Army (VJ) and the Ministry of the Interior (MUP), the victims of which were Kosovo Albanian civilians whose bodies were exhumed from the mass grave in Rudnica, as well as to present the evidence which points to those who participated in the operations of transporting and concealing the bodies at secret locations for 15 years.

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In its Progress Report for Serbia for 2013, the European Commission criticized Serbia for the low number of persons indicted for war crimes and no investigations of  high-level officers involved in war crimes.

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The Humanitarian Law Center (HLC) filed a criminal complaint against Božidar Delić, the former Commander of the 549th Motorized Brigade of the Yugoslav Army (549th YA MtBr), Radivoj Paravinja, the Commander of the 3rd Combat Group, and a number of unidentified members of the 549th MtBr, on December 26th, 2013, based on reasonable suspicion that they committed a war crime against the civilian population in the village of Landovica (Municipality of Prizren) on March 26th, 1999.

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The Humanitarian Law Center (HLC) has filed a criminal complaint against six identified officers and members of the 125th Motorized Brigade of the Yugoslav Army (125th YA MtBr), the Commander of the 24th Detachment of the Special Police Units (SPU), a number of unidentified members of the YA and the 24th Detachment of the SPU, owing to the reasonable suspicion that they ordered or executed the murder of 78 men – Kosovo Albanians – in the village of Kraljane (the Municipality of Đakovica) on April 4th, 1999. Among the accused are Dragan Živanović, the then Commander of the 125th YA MtBr, Žarko Braković, the then Commander of the 24th Detachment of the SPU, Đorđe Nikolić, the Chief of Staff of the Command of the 125th YA MtBr, and Robert Šmajcelj, the Deputy Commander of Combat Group 5 of the 125th YA MtBr.

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The Humanitarian Law Center (HLC) filed a criminal complaint against a person on March 14th, 2013 with the Republic of Serbia Office of the War Crimes Prosecutor for war crime against a civilian population committed in Mala Kruša/Krusha e Vogel (the Municipality of Prizren) on March 28th, 1999. The complaint was filed against a member of the Ministry of the Interior because of the reasonable suspicion that he killed two male Albanian civilians on March 28th, 1999 in Mala Kruša/Krusha e Vogel, in the presence of a number of witnesses.

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On August 23, 2010 the Humanitarian Law Center filed with the Office of the War Crimes Prosecutor of the Republic of Serbia a criminal complaint against an unidentified number of members of the former Yugoslav Army (VJ), members of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Serbia (MUP Serbia), and members of criminal groups operating under the control of VJ and MUP Serbia for their responsibility for for war crimes committed against Albanians in the villages of Pavljane/Pavlan, Zahać/Zahaq, and other surrounding villages and settlements in the Peć/Pejë municipality during 1998 and 1999.

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After careful consideration of available evidence about the murder of several dozens of Kosovo Albanians (42 victims have been identified so far) on March 25, 1999 in Trnje/Ternje village, Suva Reka municipality, the Humanitarian Law Center (HLC) has cause to believe that Božidar Delić, a retired major-general and another 10 persons, mostly members of the 549th motorized brigade of the Yugoslav Army (YA) under his command and a number of members of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Serbia (MUP Serbia) acted in accordance with a preconceived plan and agreement and committed these murders thus becoming criminally responsible for committing a war crime against the civilian population from Article 142, paragraph 1 of the Criminal Code of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (KZ SRJ), in connection with Article 22 of the KZ SRJ as co-perpetrators, while some of them are charged as instigators according to Article 23 of the KZ SRJ and accomplices according to Article 24, paragraph 2 of the KZ SRJ.

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