The following media round up on international, legal and foreign policy issues from around the Balkans for the period from 25 June to 8 July 2021.
The Guernica Group will provide bi-weekly media updates with a focus Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia . Should you wish to contribute or submit a media summary, opinion piece or blog, please send to Ned Vucijak at firstname.lastname@example.org for consideration.
Bosnia and Herzegovina -25 June 2021
The Constitutional court in BiH has rejected an appeal filed by Zoran Babic in September 2019 against a verdict passed down in May that year in which he said his right to a fair defence had been violated. The Appeals Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina sentenced him to 13 years in prison for a “crime against humanity”.
Serbia – 28 June 2021
The trial of the former commander of Bosnian Serb Army’s Sana Brigade, Branko Basara, who is accused of war crimes against Bosnian civilians in the Sanski Most area from April to September 1992, opened at Belgrade Higher Court. Basara is indicted on 21 accounts, accused of bearing responsibility for killings, forcible relocations, imprisonment and attacking the civilian population in multiple settlements.
Serbia – 30 June 2021
The International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals in The Hague sentenced the former chief of Serbian State Security, Jovica Stanisic, and his deputy Franko Simatovic to 12 years imprisonment for aiding and abetting the commission of wartime crimes in the Bosanski Samac area of Bosnia in 1992.
Montenegro – 1 July 2021
Montenegrin Supreme State Prosecutor, Lidija Vukcevic, warned that there is a lack of political will to prosecute war crimes, stressing that the prosecution needs the support of the authorities to bring cases to trial.
Since Montenegro became independent in 2006, it has only held eight trials for war crimes committed in Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo. Only low-level perpetrators have been tried so far.
Albanian – 2 July 2021
An Albanian Government official and three senior police officers have been arrested as part of a major drug trafficking investigation. Albania’s Special Structure Against Corruption and Organized Crime (SPAK) said the arrests followed a two-year probe led by Italy. The suspects, who operated in Albania, Italy, Montenegro, and Spain, were part of four international criminal groups mainly involved in drug trafficking.
Croatia – 5 July 2021
The retrial of former general Branimir Glavas and other defendants for war crimes in the Croatian eastern city of Osijek in 1991 opened at Zagreb County Court. More than a year has passed since the last hearing in this marathon case. One of his lawyers, his son Filip Glavas, who was in primary school when the trial of his father first began, said there had been no progress in the case in recent years.
Kosovo – 5 July 2021
The Basic Court of Pristina handed down its first-ever conviction for wartime sexual violence, sentencing former Serb policeman Zoran Vukotic to ten years in prison – a verdict that was hailed as a landmark by campaigners. Vukotic was convicted of committing rape and participating in the expulsions of ethnic Albanian civilians from the town of Vushtrri/Vucitrn on 22 May 1999. The indictment said that he raped his victim “as part of a broad and systemic attack on ethnic Albanian women”.
Bosnia and Herzegovina – 5 July 2021
The Bosnian state court announced that it has partially upheld appeals filed by former detention camp guards Boris Bosnjak Miodrag Grubacic and Ilija Djajic, who were convicted of the inhumane treatment of non-Serb civilians at the former Mosa Pijade military barracks in Bileca in 1992, reducing their sentences.
Montenegro – 7 July 2021
Montenegrin NGO Human Rights Action said that Serbia has failed to extradite Zoran Vukovic to Montenegro, where he was convicted in his absence of killing three members of the Klapuh family in July 1992. Montenegro’s justice ministry requested Vukovic’s extradition in 2016 and again in September 2018 and July 2020, but Serbia did not respond. Zoran Vukovic’s current whereabouts remain unknown.
Kosovo – 7 July 2021
Kosovo’s Special Prosecution has filed an indictment against former Minister for European Integration Dhurata Hoxha and four current and former officials of the ministry over a contract that saw budget money spent on a Paris-based PR company that promoted Kosovo’s “territorial modification” as a way to solve the Kosovo-Serbia dispute.
Croatia -8 July 2021
Zagreb-based NGO Documenta – Centre for Dealing with the Past and the Serbian National Council, which represents the Serb minority in Croatia, launched a media campaign on Thursday entitled ‘Justice for Victims’, supporting the government’s plan to pass legislation that will grant benefits to civilian victims of the 1991-95 war.