Mass Murder at Ovčara

Mass Murder at Ovčara

Following the fall of Vukovar on 20 November 1991., Serb forces deported some 250 to 270 wounded from Vukovar hospital to Ovčara farm, some five kilometers south of the city. There, YNA troops and Chetniks tortured them for hours, before taking them – in groups of 30 – to a remote location between Ovčara and Grabovo to be killed. Executions began around 18:00, and continued until 1:00 in the morning.

Following the last prisoner exchange in Nemetin on 14th August 1992. and leaving the imprisonment of several Croatian soldiers, including one who had managed to escape the truck taking him to the execution site, truth about the crime at Ovčara came to light. That day Zdenko Novak, a surviving witness, told to the families searching their own among the exchanged prisoners: “They are no more.”.

Truth about the crime started to reach the light. On 22nd October 1992., Tadeusz Mazowiecki, special emissary of the Commission for Human Rights, reported that the exact place of the mass grave at Ovčara had been found. In December 1992. and March 1993., dr. Clyde Snow and his team carried out the first investigations of the grave. However, exhumation of the victims of the massacre was impossible due to Serb occupation of the area. Because of this, UNPROFOR forces kept watch over the graves for years to prevent evidence from being removed.

Exhumation of victims of massacre at Ovčara finally began on 31st August 1996., and lasted until October of the same year. During 40 days, some 200 bodies were uncovered, among them two women (Ružica Markobašić, who was five months pregnant, and Janja Pohorski) and three minors (Igor Kačić, Tomislav Baumgertner, Dragutin Balog), all three of them hada sister, three fathers with sons (Josip and Dragutin Balog, Andrija and Zoran Međeši, Karlo and Željko Rohaček), two born brothers (Tomislav and Vladimir Kolaki) and so on. Youngest identified victim was Igor Kačić (born 1975.) and the oldest was Dragutin Bosanac (born 1919.). By July 2006., 194 individuals had been identified, killed at age of 16 to 77 years. Some 60 persons are still considered disappeared.

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