Igor Mikola

25.04.2016 ( Last modified: 02.06.2016 )
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facts

Igor Mikola was born on 3 December 1971 in Vukovar, Croatia. During the Croatian Civil War, Mikola acted as part of a unit in the “Mercepovci” reserve police force. The force was named in honour of Tomislave Mercep for his actions during the defence of the city of Vukovar before it fell to Serbian forces, and also for his military operations in the cities of Gospic and Karlovac.

On 7 December 1991, Mikola, who was then a member of a unit in the “Mercepovci” reserve police force, along with other members Siniša Rimac, Munib Suljić, Nebojša Hodak and Suzana Živanović, invaded the home of the Serbian Zec family, in Zagreb. The father, Mihajlo Zec, mother, Marija Zec and their 12 year old daughter, Aleksandra Zec were all then killed.

The murders took place in the period when Croatia had proclaimed their independence from Belgrade and their new army was fighting against the Yugoslav People’s Army (JNA) and against the Serbian rebels from Croatia that wanted them to remain in Yugoslavia.

Allegedly, the killers, including Mikola, suspected that Mihajlo Zec, a businessman, was helping the Serbian rebels, and so, they broke into his home intending to arrest him. Zec tried to flee and was executed by Siniša Rimac.

After killing Mihajlo Zec, the officials kidnapped Marija and Aleksandra and brought them to a forest in the Sljeme Mountains, near Zagreb, where the daughter was murdered in cold blood by Munib Suljić, who shot her in the head with a machine gun whilst the mother was killed by another member of the group. The bodies of Marija and Aleksandra were thrown into a landfill and the killers fled from the scene. The two other children of the Zec family, Gordana and Dusan, managed to hide near the house and survived the attack.

Also in 1991, Mikola participated in the murder of Aleksandar Sasa Antić, in conjunction with Munib Suljić, Sinisa Rimać, Miroslav Bajramović, Zvonimir Zakosek, Kresimir Prosinecki, Branko Sarić, Zoran Karlović and Stjepan Mandjarelo.

In November or December 1991, the group is alleged to have brought Antić to a tomb, dug in advance for her, in a meadow near the village of Janja Lipa. There, Munib Suljić shot at the victim, who, when continuing to show signs of life, was then shot by Mikola and Sinisa Rimać until she died.

In addition to this crime, Miroslav Bajramović y Stjepan Mandjarelo brought Miloš Ivošević, Radom Pajić and Marko Grujić, along with other unidentified people to Zagreb and handed them over to Branko Sarić in Pakračka Poljana, Croatia. On this occasion, Mikola took the car and money from victim, Ivošević and the three victims were then shot and killed.

Mikola was convicted for being accessory in the murder of Aleksandar Antić and for unlawful detention and extortion of victims Miloš Ivošević, Radom Pajić y Marko Grujić. After he was sentenced in September 2005, he fled to Peru, where he handed himself in to the police in July 2014, after he was involved in a shooting in Lima.

legal procedure

Mikola was convicted for being accessory in the murder of Aleksandar Antić and for unlawful detention and extortion of victims Miloš Ivošević, Radom Pajić y Marko Grujić. After he was sentenced in September 2005, he fled to Peru, where he handed himself in to the police in July 2014, after he was involved in a shooting in Lima.

THE ZEC FAMILY CASE

Those who killed the Zec family were detained by police and confessed to their crime. However, they were interrogated without their lawyers being present and this meant they were freed without having been brought to trial.

Allegedly some witnesses saw Siniša Rimac shoot Mihajlo Zec, whilst others claim that Mikola confessed to the murders. Furthermore, reportedly the police found that the weapons seized from the accused were identical to the weapons used to carry out the crimes against the Zec family. Likewise, a forensic test found that the perpetrators car was used to transport Aleksandra and Marija Zec to the mountains.

The Court of Zagreb declared the accused not guilty because their confessions were considered to be inadmissible, since their legal attorneys were not present when they gave them.

The murder of the Zec family was never properly investigated by the legal system in Croatia. Although the government agreed to give monetary compensation to the surviving family members in a judicial transaction in 2004, the perpetrators of this crime continue to enjoy impunity.

THE PAKRACKA POLJANA CASE

In 2005, Mikola, along with Munib Suljić y Siniša Rimac, was sentenced to five years in prison for the Pakračka Poljana case, in which the group committed various crimes against Serbians near to Pakrac in 1991. Although they committed war crimes, Mikola was only sentenced as an accomplice to the murder of Alexsandar Antić and as a participant in the unlawful detention and extortion of victims Miloš Ivošević, Radom Pajić y Marko Grujić

Following his conviction in September 2005, Mikola fled to Peru, where he ended up turning himself in to the police in July 2014, after being involved in a shooting in Lima.

Mikola remains imprisoned in Lima waiting a decision on his extradition.

context

INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL TRIBUNAL FOR FORMER YUGOSLAVIA

The conflict in former Yugoslavia from 1991 to 1999, shocked international public opinion because of the abuses revealed by the press, which were committed by all parties to the conflict (massacres, forced displacements of population, concentration camps …). The conflict is considered to consist of several separate conflicts, which were ethnic in nature – the war in Slovenia (1991), the war in Croatia (1991-1995), the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina (1992-1995) and the war Kosovo (1998-1999), which also involved the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999.

The conflicts accompanied the break-up of Yugoslavia, when the constituent republics declared their independence. The wars mostly ended after peace accords were signed, and new republics were given full international recognition of their statehood.

In order to restore peace and security in the region, the Security Council acting under Chapter VII of UN Charter, created on 25 May 1993, by Resolution 827, the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY). It was determined that pursuant to numerous reports of, among other, mass killings, systematic detention, rapes, practice of “ethnic cleansing”, transfers, etc., these acts constituted a threat to international peace and security, necessitating a reaction by Security Council. As the Tribunal was created during the ongoing conflict, the Security Council expressed its hopes that ICTY would contribute to halting violations in the region. Its headquarters are in The Hague, Netherlands.

The Tribunal has jurisdiction to prosecute persons responsible for serious violations of international humanitarian law – grave breaches of Geneva Conventions, violations of laws and customs of war, genocide and crimes against humanity – allegedly committed in the territory of the former Yugoslavia after 1 January 1991, (no end date was specified). Since its creation, the ICTY has indicted more than 160 people, including heads of states and government members.

The Tribunal’s mandate was originally meant to expire on 31 December 2009, but the Security Council voted unanimously to extend the mandate of the Court with several judges, including permanent judges, so that the ongoing trials can be completed. According to the “ICTY Completion Strategy Report” from 18 May 2011, all trials were supposed to be completed by the end of 2012, and all the appeals by the end of 2015. The exceptions were cases of Radovan Karadzic, Ratko Mladic and Goran Hadzic.

The Security Council adopted resolution 1966 on 22 December 2010, establishing International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals. The ICTY residual mechanism began functioning on 1 July 2013.

The Tribunal was called to finish its work by the end of 2014, in order to prepare closure and transfer of cases to the Residual Mechanism. The Mechanism is a small and temporary body, which plays important role in ensuring that the completion strategy of ICTY does not result in impunity of fugitives and in injustice. It is conducting all outstanding first instance trials, including those of Karadzic, Mladic and Hadzic. It is also to complete all appeals proceedings that were filed before 1 July 2013.

The ICTY is not the only court with jurisdiction to try alleged perpetrators of serious violations of international humanitarian law committed in the former Yugoslavia. The Tribunal has concurrent jurisdiction with national courts. However, it takes precedence over them and may require the referral from the national court at any stage of the proceedings (Article 9 of the ICTY Statute). The Statute does not elaborate how the primacy is to be exercised, but it was asserted by the judges of the ICTY in the Rules of Procedure and Evidence. The primacy can be asserted in three cases: when an international crime is intentionally or unwittingly prosecuted before national court as an “ordinary criminal offence”, when a national court is unreliable, or when the case is closely related, or may be relevant to other cases being tried by the ICTY.

NATIONAL JURISDICTIONS

National courts also have jurisdiction to prosecute alleged perpetrators of serious violations of international humanitarian law.

In the former Yugoslavia, the trials of those accused of war crimes have been opened by the courts of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Section for War Crimes was set up in the Criminal and Appellate Divisions of the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Special Chamber for War Crimes has jurisdiction to prosecute the most serious alleged war crimes committed in Bosnia, and was created to relieve the ICTY, so that it can focus on criminals of high rank. Its establishment was also considered necessary for effective war crimes prosecution in Bosnia. The opening of the Special Chamber was on 9 March 2005.

Additionally, pursuant to UN Security Council Resolution 1244 from 10 June 1999, UN administration was created in Kosovo. Consequently, in 2000 “Regulation 64” Panels in Courts of Kosovo were created, which are mixed chambers at the local courts. They have two international judges and one national. These panels work in collaboration with the ICTY. They have jurisdiction over those responsible for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. They focus on prosecuting lower ranking offenders.

In Serbia, the Office of the War Crimes Prosecutor was established on 1 July 2003. It was created to detect and prosecute perpetrators of criminal offenses against humanity and international law, and offences recognised by the ICTY Statute, regardless of the nationality, citizenship, race or religion of the perpetrator and the victim, as long as the acts were committed on the territory of former Yugoslavia after 1 January 1991. Its seat is in Belgrade, Serbia.

Other relevant national jurisdictions are under the principle of universal jurisdiction, which allows states with a specific legal basis, to try perpetrators of serious crimes regardless of their nationality or that of the victims and regardless of where the crime was committed.

 

Fact Sheet
Name: Igor Mikola
Nationality: Croatia
Context: Former Yugoslavia
Charges: Other, War crimes, Protection of civilians
Status: Sentenced
Judgement Place: Croatia
Particulars: Participated in the murder of a Serbian family during the Croatian Civil War; Sentenced to five years’ imprisonment for acting as an accomplice in the murder of one man and for illegally detaining and extorting three other people in 1991; Fled Croatia after the sentence was handed down in September 2005