Veteran convicted for war crime requests postponement of imprisonment

Former special police officer Mihajlo Hrastov, who has received a final guilty verdict for the killing and wounding of enemy soldiers on the Korana Bridge in Karlovac in 1991, will not go to prison on Thursday because on Tuesday he filed a request with the Karlovac County Court to postpone the execution of his sentence.

Judge Ante Ujevic, who is in charge of executing the sentence, told Hina that he was yet to decide on the request but that it had postponed the execution of the prison sentence.

Karlovac County Court president Ivan Perkovic said on Tuesday that Hrastov's request would be dealt with urgently.

Hrastov's attorney Kresimir Vilajtovic would not comment on the latest developments or what he planned to do next.

His other attorney Igor Meznaric recalled in a written answer to Hina that they were still waiting for a ruling on their complaint of unconstitutionality filed with the Constitutional Court.

Hrastov's trial began in 1992 and was one of the longest in Croatia. He was acquitted three times by the Karlovac County Court, but the Supreme Court convicted him three times, to eight, seven and four years' imprisonment. 

In May 2015 the Supreme Court upheld the four-year prison sentence against the former special police officer for the murder of 13 enemy soldiers on the Korana Bridge in 1991.

A panel of judges found that Hrastov was guilty of war crimes against prisoners of war and that, contrary to his claims, he did not act in self-defence and that he shot at enemy soldiers who had surrendered, killing 13 and seriously wounding two.

Hrastov began serving the four-year sentence in 2009 before that final verdict was quashed by the Constitutional Court for procedural reasons. The time he spent in prison from May 2009 to December 2010 and the time he spent in custody from March 6 to September 4, 1992 will be counted against the sentence.

Karlovac County Court president Ivan Perkovic confirmed that a non-trial panel of judges had still not decided on compensation for litigation costs in the amount of HRK 150,000, to be paid to the injured parties by Hrastov. 

Both Hrastov and the injured parties complained last year against the court's decision, contending that the costs should be covered by the state.

Aside from the legal costs, the victims' families have the right to claim damages on account of their family providers' death or wounding.

The Karlovac County Prosecutor's Office confirmed to Hina on Tuesday that several proceedings related to damages claimed by the victims' families were still under way.

Last update: Tue, 05/01/2016 - 17:09
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