Monday, July 25, 2011

Key ruling issued by Belgrade Appellate Court in the case of the Rehabilitation of General Draza Mihailovich / June 24, 2011


Aleksandra's Note: A key ruling has been issued in the case of the Rehabilitation of General Draza Mihailovich. On June 24th, 2011 the Appellate Court in Belgrade, Serbia struck down an appeal of the Belgrade High Court ruling that had denied the request of Risto Vukovic, a member of the communist forces in WWII and later a member of OZNA, then UDBA – the secret police of Tito’s regime - and his attorney Bajo Cmiljanic to take part in the proceedings of the Rehabilitation of General Mihailovich.

In the four page ruling issued on June 24th 2011, the Appellate Court denied the Vukovic/Cmiljanic appeal and explained in detail, item by item, why no one could "appeal" the rulings of the High Court in the rehabilitation proceedings. The Rehabilitation Law covers the time frame from April 6th 1941 (the day when Germany and Italy attacked the Kingdom of Yugoslavia) until 2006, and it regulates the rehabilitation of the victims of prosecutions and killings, plunder and/or other injustices committed by the state at the time.

In its explanation, the Appellate Court found that the High Court in Belgrade ruled correctly and in accordance with the law pertaining to this case. The Law of Rehabilitation does not provide an opportunity for other parties to take part in the proceedings. The only party allowed to take part in the proceedings is that of the victim, in this case General Mihailovich, and no one else.  Based on some of the law’s provisions, the communists challenged the ruling of the High Court, demanding that Risto Vukovic be allowed to take part as an interested party in the case. The High Court denied this request, and Vukovic appealed. The same High Court denied his appeal and the case was then brought before the Appellate Court, which upheld the High Court's ruling denying Risto Vukovic's request to participate in the Mihailovich rehabilitation proceedings.

The case of the Rehabilitation of General Mihailovich will now resume in the High Court in Belgrade, with the next scheduled hearing to take place on September 27, 2011.

The first hearing took place on October 29, 2010 with Lt. Col. Milton Friend of the U.S.A.F., a veteran of the great Halyard Mission rescue operation of 1944, traveling to Serbia at his own expense to testify as a key witness in the rehabilitation proceedings.

Lt. Col. Milton Friend, U.S.A.F. (retired), in the blue tie, speaking to
reporters in Belgrade on October 29, 2010, the first day of the
hearings in the Mihailovich Rehabilitation proceedings.
Photo courtesy of Milton and Shirley Friend. 


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