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The town of Orasje. Photo: zupanijaposavska.ba
Media reported on Monday that Pero Vincetic, a former member of the Croatian Defence Council, HVO, died in Croatia shortly after Croatian police charged him with war crimes.
The parish church in Tovarnik, the village in eastern Croatia where Vincetic had been living, announced on social media that Vincetic, known as ‘Horse’, had “passed away suddenly” on Sunday and that the funeral would be held on Wednesday at the local cemetery.
Vincetic, who held Croatian and Bosnian citizenship, was arrested on July 20 in eastern Croatia, when Croatian police said he was suspected of the abuse of two civilians in the northeastern Bosnian town of Orasje early in Bosnia’s 1992-95 war.
He had already been indicted in Bosnia and Herzegovina on war crimes charges of rape and sexual abuse in the Orasje municipality and “other war crimes” against Serbs in the area in 1992 and 1993.
Vincetic had long been linked to alleged war crimes; in an interview with BIRN in 2016, two civilians, Croat Marko Benkovic and his Hungarian wife Tunde, who ran a Hungarian restaurant and nightclub in Orasje before the war broke out, accused him of rape and torture.
Tunde Benkovic also testified in court in Bosnia that she was raped in Orasje in May 1992 by Vincetic and a subordinate, who was later sentenced to 13 years in prison for war crimes including rape and abuse of prisoners.
Vincetic has long denied the allegations.
“The only thing that is true in what the Benkovic couple is saying is their name and surname, I guess,” he told Croatian NovaTV in February 2019.
At the start of the war in Bosnia, Orasje occupied an important position in terms of transport and communication lines between the Bosnian Serb stronghold of Banja Luka and the Serbian capital, Belgrade.
The town of was predominantly Bosniak and the surrounding villages populated mainly by Croats, so Croat and Bosniak fighters joined forces against the Bosnian Serbs army.
In 2016, ten former HVO fighters were arrested on suspicion of committing crimes against Serbs in Orasje from April 1992 to July 1993. Their trial began in 2017 and is ongoing.