News

Criminal complaint for rape of Roma women in 1993

15.05.2018

On January 29, 2018, the Humanitarian Law Center (HLC) filed a criminal complaint with the Office of the War Crimes Prosecutor (OWCP) against several unidentified members of the Secretariat of the Interior (SUP) of Beli Manastir, for the rape of six Roma women (including one pregnant woman and three minors) in the basement of the SUP Beli Manastir, in the summer of 1993.

After their arrest near the UNPROFOR base in Beli Manastir, the women were taken to the basement of the Beli Manastir SUP, shaved their heads, insulted them, beat them and then raped them. One minor was forced to drink hot water. Because of the rape she had to endure, the pregnant woman lost her unborn child, while one of the minors during the beatings by the policemen was pierced in the eardrum.

A trial was held in Serbia for the murder of at least five civilians of Croatian nationality, and the unlawful imprisonment, violation of the physical integrity, intimidation, torture, terrorization and inhumane treatment of civilians on the premises of the SUP Beli Manastir in the period from August until December 1991. Policemen from Beli Manastir were sentenced to imprisonment: Zoran Vukšić (20 years), Slobodan Strigić (10 years), Branko Hrnjak (5 years) and Velimir Bertić (a year and a half). The rape of the detained women at the SUP in Beli Manastir in the summer of 1993 was not the subject of that indictment, and it is not known whether this crime was even investigated.

Since the commencement of war crimes prosecutions in Serbia, only in seven cases (Lekaj, Skočić, Ćuška, Bratunac, Bijeljina I, Bijeljina II and Zvornik III and IV) has the indictment included sexual abuse during the armed conflicts in the former Yugoslavia.

Therefore the HLC invites the OWCP to investigate these allegations stated in the criminal complaint that has been filed, to prosecute the persons responsible, and contribute towards breaking the silence regarding the sexual crimes committed during the conflicts on the territory of the former Yugoslavia, thus finally bringing justice and truth to the victims 25 years after the commission of the crimes.