News

Criminal Complaint for Crime in Lovas Committed In 1991

03.11.2016

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).

The complaint was filed against the former Commander of the Second Proletarian Elite Motorized Brigade of the Yugoslav People’s Army (JNA 2nd PEMBR), Dušan Lončar.

On October 9th, 1991, Dušan Lončar ordered an attack on the village of Lovas (East Slavonia) and the cleansing from the terrain of members of the Croatian National Guard and of the Republic of Croatia Ministry of the Interior, as well as of population ”showing hostility”. Early in the morning the following day, Lončar ordered the Howitzer Division of the JNA 2nd PEMBR to open fire and launch an artillery attack on Lovas, in which two Croat civilians were killed. Soon after this, members of the Dušan Silni (‘Dušan the Mighty’) volunteer unit entered Lovas, as part of the execution of the order issued by Lončar, and started shooting at random, and throwing hand grenades into backyards and houses. They killed several civilians while they were in their homes, and took others outside their houses and killed them in the street or other places, which resulted in the destruction and damaging of civilian property and the death of 21 civilians.

Before the Higher Court in Belgrade Department For War Crimes, a repeated trial is pending against ten low- and mid-ranking members of the units subordinate to the Brigade, which was under the command of Lončar, for crimes committed in October and November 1991 in the village of Lovas. The proceedings against members of units subordinated to the JNA 2nd PEMBR brigade have lasted for nine years. However, Dušan Lončar has not been indicted to this day, although the case files contain his order for attack against a “civilian population showing hostility”, as well as findings by a court-appointed military expert, proving that Lončar’s order was contrary to Article 13 of the Second Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions. When announcing the first instance judgment in the Lovas Case, the Presiding Judge also made the following statement: “As for the attack on Lovas, the manner in which it was executed and considering everything that happened during the attack, this Trial Chamber finds that the greatest responsibility for this attack lies with the commanding authority of the 2nd Brigade”.

In the 12 years since the foundation of the Office of the War Crimes Prosecutor (OWCP), no high-ranking perpetrator has been prosecuted. The National Strategy for the Prosecution of War Crimes states alleges that “Cases against high-ranking suspects should be considered, de jure or de facto, the priority in the work of the Prosecutor” for the period 2016-2020.