Monday October 18th marks the 30th anniversary of one of the most horrific war crimes committed during the Serbian aggression of the 1990's. The Lovas killings took place from the 10th to the 18th of October in 1991, in the immediate aftermath of the occupation of the village of Lovas by the Yugoslav People's Army supported by Serb paramilitary units, two days after Croatia declared independence from Yugoslavia.
After the Serb and JNA forces established their occupation of the village, the Croat population was required to wear white armbands and mark their houses using white sheets so that they could be identified as non-Serbs. The Catholic Church in Lovas was torched and 261 houses were looted and destroyed, while 1 341 civilians were forced to leave their homes.
From the 10th to the 18th Serb and JNA forces tortured the civilian population, which included the rape of many of the women. This culminated on the 18th of October, when they forced a group of civilians to walk into a minefield at gunpoint and then opened fire upon them. All told 89 Croatian civilians were killed during the Serb and JNA reign of terror.
The bodies of the victims were retrieved from a mass grave and ten individual graves in 1997. Lovas was rebuilt after the war, but its population size shrunk by one third compared to its pre-war level.
And while the occupation of Lovas and the killing and expulsion of its civilian population was included in the ICTY's indictments against then Serbian President Slobodan Milošević, and Goran Hadžić, one of the leaders of rebel Serb forces in Croatia, both died before their trials could be completed. To this day no one has been held to account for the Lovas atrocities.
Vukovar-Srijem County Prefect Damir Dekanić had this to say at today's commemoration in Lovas: “The people of Lovas paid a horrific price. This was one in a series of horrific crimes committed in this area. All I can say is that I hope that one day all those did this, will be brought before justice.”
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