The War Crime in the Village of Joševica

On 16 December 1991, a revenge crime was committed against the Croatian population in Joševica near the town of Glina.

Joševica was a relatively small place with approximately 130 inhabitants. The year of war brought unrest into the everyday lives of the population comprised mostly of elderly people. The area around Joševica did not experience direct combat and the occupying rebel Serb authorities and military commanders guaranteed peace and security to local Croats if they did not resist the occupation with force. It is presumed that the cruel crime took place as revenge for the Croatian military-police Operation “WHIRLWIND” that began in the Glina area a few days earlier and in which the so-called “Gračanica victims”, Chetnik paramilitary soldiers were killed in the village of Gračanica Šišinečka.

The crime in Joševica took place in the early afternoon of Sunday, 16 December and is suspected to have been committed by the “Jose Kovačević Scout and Sabotage Group” and “Shields” Serbian paramilitary units. Twenty-one people were murdered, most of which were seniors, as well as Pavao Šiftar (15), Luka Šiftar (20), Ljubica Šiftar (19) and Katarina Škrinjar (21). The victims all died from close range gunfire to the head from automatic weapons. The weapons were equipped with silencers and the criminals went from house to house and killed people on the spot without drawing attention to themselves.

Crimes against the civilian population continued in the village until 1994. Joševica awaited justice for a long time or more precisely, still awaits justice. Anka Šiftar, a senior shot in the mouth and neck who was the sole survivor of the massacre was the crown witness at a trial that ended in 2018. Dušan Žarković and Bogdan Jednak, members of Serbian paramilitary units, were sentenced in absentia to 15 years in prison while three co-accused were acquitted for lack of evidence. In his explanation of the verdict, Zagreb County Court Judge Tomislav Juriša said that the crime in Joševica was carefully planned with the full support of the military, political and intelligence leadership of the so-called Serbain Autonomous Region (SAR) of Krajina. The judge also stated that even the perpetrators were carefully selected and added that even though there was insufficient evidence for a conviction, the court was convinced that all three acquitted defendants had also participated in the crime.

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