Reuters, December 13, 2005
Serbia Convicts 14 of War Crimes
BELGRADE, Serbia and Montenegro - Serbia convicted 14 former militia members Monday of massacring at least 200 Croatian prisoners of war during the battle of Vukovar in 1991.
A special Belgrade court found them guilty of carrying out the executions on a pig farm at the end of the three-month siege of Croatia's easternmost town.
In November 1991, members of the Serb territorial defense seized the prisoners from a hospital, put them on trailers and took them to the farm. At pits, firing squads shot the victims seven or eight at a time.
It took two days. The pits were bulldozed over.
"They are guilty ... of murders, inflicting bodily harm and behaving in an inhumane way calculated to degrade human dignity," said presiding Judge Vesko Krstajic, delivering the verdict.
Eight of the convicted received the maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. Three others were given 15-year terms and the only female defendant nine years. Two defendants were acquitted. It was the most significant war crimes judgment made by a Serbian court.
One defendant jumped up and screamed in protest and was led from court.
The families of the victims, bused in from Croatia, displayed photographs of their loved ones.
"Justice has come. But our sons are dead. These people will live," said Barica Spudic, whose 26-year-old son was killed at Vukovar. "We hope evils like this will never happen again."
The slaughter early in Croatia's war of independence was the first atrocity of many in the ensuing four years, as Croats and Bosnian Muslims battled Serbs.
Three Serb commanders charged with orchestrating the massacre are on trial before the U.N. war crimes tribunal for the former Yugoslavia at The Hague.
The convictions came on the same day that Croatian war crimes suspect Ante Gotovina pleaded not guilty at the tribunal. Gotovina is accused of driving about 150,000 Serbs from their homes in Croatia in 1995 and killing 150 of them.