New York, December 13, 2005—The War Crimes Chamber of the district court in the Serbian capital, Belgrade, convicted 14 former soldiers Monday on charges of torturing and executing Croatian civilians, including at least two journalists, in neighboring Croatia in 1991, according to international press reports.
The defendants were given prison sentences ranging from five to 20 years for the massacre of more than 200 prisoners of war at an abandoned farm outside the eastern Croatian city of Vukovar. Two other defendants were acquitted.
The massacre occurred at a time when the Serbian-controlled Yugoslav army had seized control of eastern and central portions of the newly independent Croatia.
Among the victims were Radio Vukovar Editor-in-Chief Sinisa Glavasevic and technician Branko Polovina, who along with other journalists had kept the radio station running during an 86-day artillery siege of the city by Serbian forces.
As Serbian forces entered the city, Glavasevic and Polivina fled to the Vukovar hospital on November 18 in the hopes of being evacuated from the city by officials from the Geneva-based International Committee for the Red Cross.
On November 19, Serbian forces rounded up hundreds of medical patients, hospital staff, and civilians who had taken shelter in the building, transported them to the Ovcara pig farm some 4 miles (6.5 kilometers) southeast of Vukovar, and summarily executed them the following day. Survivors said that Serbian forces had singled out and brutally beaten the journalists for their work.
Radio Vukovar—broadcasting to a small audience of city residents trapped in their basements—reported on casualties, bombing raids, and damage to the city. The station strongly criticized politicians in the Croatian capital, Zagreb, for not sending adequate assistance.
Investigators from the Hague-based United Nations International Criminal Tribunal exhumed the corpses of Galvasevic and Polovina in 1997 and they were reburied by their families, according to international press reports.