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Monday, 22 April, 2002, 14:26 GMT 15:26 UK
Most wanted: 'The Dubrovnik Four'
Tamara Kovacevic examines the case against the four former Yugoslav army officers suspected of war crimes during the 1991 shelling of the Croatian city of Dubrovnik.


Pavle Strugar

The Hague tribunal holds Pavle Strugar, the retired Yugoslav Army's Lieutenant General, responsible for the 1991 shelling of the historic city of Dubrovnik on the Croatian coast.

Pavle Strugar
Mr Strugar surrendered to the UN court in October 2001
Pavle Strugar was born in 1933 in Kosovo, in the town of Pec.

After graduating from the military academy, he was assigned to various posts in the Yugoslav army, in the republics of Slovenia and Serbia.

When the conflict in Croatia broke out, Pavle Strugar was named the Commander of the Yugoslav army's Second Operational Group, formed to conduct the military campaign against Dubrovnik and surrounding areas in Croatia.

The group numbered between 20,000 and 35,000 troops.

The objective of the army, which was influenced by the nationalist policies of then leader Slobodan Milosevic and his allies, was to put the area under the control of Serbia.

The Yugoslav army launched an attack on Dubrovnik on 1 October 1991.

The army was well positioned on the mountains east and north of Dubrovnik and had an unobstructed view over the city and helped by the navy from the Adriatic sea.

Until 7 December 1991, the Yugoslav army shelled the city, killing at least 43 civilians and injuring many more.

The historic Old Town area of the city, mainly built in the 17th Century, was not spared.

Despite being a United Nations World Cultural Heritage Site, about 1,000 shells fell on the Old Town district, according to the indictment. Many buildings were damaged or destroyed.

Slobodan Milosevic
The Yugoslav army was influenced by Mr Milosevic's nationalist policies
The war crimes tribunal's indictment against Pavle Strugar and his co-accused lists 15 counts of violations of the laws or customs of war and one count of grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions.

The men were in command of the forces responsible for the killings and the destruction of Dubrovnik as well as plundering public and private property in the areas surrounding Dubrovnik.

Pavle Strugar retired in August 1993.

After the indictment against him became public in October 2001, Pavle Strugar decided to co-operate with the court.

He was the first Yugoslav citizen to voluntarily surrender to the UN court where he denied the charges against him.

On 1 December 2001 he was provisionally released and is now in Yugoslavia, waiting for the start of the trial.

Miodrag Jokic

Miodrag Jokic was born in Serbia in 1935 and was educated at the Yugoslav military-naval academy.

In 1991, after serving as an officer in the Yugoslav navy for a number of years, he was promoted to Vice Admiral.

Miodrag Jokic with his wife Stanka
Miodrag Jokic is charged with 43 civilian deaths

Later in the year, he was named the commander of the sector of the Yugoslav navy which was responsible for attacking the city of Dubrovnik and surrounding areas from the Adriatic Sea.

Miodrag Jokic is charged with 43 civilian deaths and the destruction of the city of Dubrovnik between 1 October and 7 December 1991.

The four are also held responsible for the plundering and destruction committed by the forces under their command.

In an attempt to stop the offensive against Dubrovnik, representatives of the European Community Monitoring Mission made contact with Miodrag Jokic in order to initiate negotiations between the army and the citizens of Dubrovnik.

The negotiations started on 15 October. Miodrag Jokic represented the Yugoslav army on several occasions.

On 5 December, Mr Jokic agreed to a ceasefire in Dubrovnik as well as an easing of the naval blockade of the city.

However, he refused to sign an agreement until he received the approval of the army's supreme command in Belgrade. The approval arrived two days later and the agreement was signed on 7 December.

The Yugoslav forces finally withdrew from the region in October 1992. Miodrag Jokic retired from the Yugoslav navy in May 1992.

After learning about his indictment, Mr Jokic voluntarily surrendered to the Hague tribunal in November 2001. He is currently on a provisional release, awaiting trial.

Milan Zec

Milan Zec was born in Bosnia on 20 September 1943. He graduated from the Military-Naval Academy of the Yugoslav army.

In 1991 he held the rank of Battleship Captain and was the chief of staff of the sector of the Yugoslav navy responsible for shelling Dubrovnik.
The historic centre of Dubrovnik
Dubrovnik was under fire for three months in 1991

The Hague tribunal charges Milan Zec with the same 15 counts of violation of the laws or customs of war and one count of the grave breaches of the Geneva conventions.

Together with Miodrag Jokic, or sometimes on his own, Milan Zec took part in negotiations for a ceasefire in Dubrovnik which was eventually signed on 7 December 1991.

In 1994 Milan Zec was first promoted to the rank on Rear Admiral and then later in the year he became the commander of the Yugoslav navy. In December 1996 he was promoted again - to Vice Admiral.

In 2001, the new Yugoslav leadership which replaced the former leader Slobodan Milosevic, reshuffled or retired some of the military top ranks loyal to Mr Milosevic. Milan Zec was among those to retire.

Although Miodrag Jokic, the commander of Milan Zec's military naval section, voluntarily surrendered to The Hague tribunal in 2001, Milan Zec has not followed suit. He still lives in Yugoslavia.

Vladimir Kovacevic

Vladimir Kovacevic, known in Yugoslavia as "Rambo", is the youngest of the four officers charged with the murder of civilians and destruction of the city of Dubrovnik in 1991.

He was born in 1961, had a military education and in the autumn of 1991 held the rank of a Captain First Class.

He was appointed the commander of a Yugoslav army battalion which joined the other troops for the Dubrovnik military campaign. He was under the command of Miodrag Jokic and Milan Zec.

Vladimir Kovacevic is charged with nine counts of the violation of the laws or customs of war for his role in two incidents of shelling of Dubrovnik which killed 24 civilians, and for the destruction of the Old Town of Dubrovnik.

Dubrovnik under fire
At least 43 civilians died during the shelling of Dubrovnik
Between 1 and 12 November 1991, 10 people died and many more were injured in the shelling. And on 6 December another 14 civilians were killed.

The Yugoslav forces shelling the city were under the command of Vladimir Kovacevic as well as the other higher-ranking officers, Pavle Strugar, Miodrag Jokic and Milan Zec.

Vladimir Kovacevic is no longer active in the Yugoslav army and he is still believed to live in Yugoslavia.

In 2001, Vladimir Kovacevic was charged by the High Court in Podgorica, the capital of Montenegro, with the intent to intimidate and threaten Montenegrin citizens to vote for a pro-Milosevic candidate in the presidential elections in Montenegro in 1997.

The court acquitted him and another 12 co-defendants in October 2001.

See also:

17 Apr 02 | Europe
Hague's wanted men
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