location: The town of Gospić is the largest settlement in Lika and it is the demographic, economic, cultural and administrative center of the region. It is situated in the middle of Ličko polje at 562 meters above sea level, at the banks of three rivers: Novčica, Lika and Bogdanica. In 1991, Gospić had a population of 9025, while the town of Gospić administratively included almost 30.000 inhabitants distributed in 82 town and farming settlements. Out of 9025 citizens of Gospić, 35,93 percent or 3243 inhabitants were of Serb ethnicity. Croats represented some 5000 people of this population. Today Gospić administratively does not cover such a large area since several municipalities were created in this area, as well as some town settlements (Karlobag). According to the 2011 census, the town’s territory encompasses 50 settlements with 12.745 inhabitants of whom only 609 are Serbs, making up 4.78 percent of the entire population.

time: 14 — 18 October 1991

description of the crime: In the first half of October 1991, Gospić police made a list of Serbs who continued to live there after the beginning of the war or who returned there after local government’s appeals. A group of people gathered around the so called Operative Headquarters Lika, at the head of which informally was Tihomir Orešković (in this group was also the then commander of the 118 brigade, Mirko Norac), but with great power and influence, and who organized, in mid-October, the illegal and unfounded detentions of civilians from the lists, mostly Serbs, but also some Croats from Gospić and the surrounding area and Karlobag. More than 50 people were taken to the Perušić barracks where they were detained, but four of them were released. On 17 October, during the evening hours, the so called deadly meeting was held in the Operative Headquarters where 15 persons participated and where it was decided that the detained civilians should be executed. Civilians were then led to the Žitnik pine tree plantation where at least 10 persons were executed. Mirko Norac and some other participants of the meeting, who remain unnamed, took part in the executions. The very next morning, on 18 October, in line with the agreement between Orešković and Norac, Stjepan Grandić, as the commander of the Second battalion stationed at the Perušić barracks, organized the transport of the remaining civilians to the Lipova Glavica locality outside Perušić. There he commanded Croatian Army troops to kill, with firearms, persons who were brought there. Along with Orešković, soldiers acted according to orders and within two days more than 50 victims were executed (identity of 47 has been established). Serbs killed in the mentioned period were not the only Serb civilians in Gospić – killings, disappearances, and illegal evictions from houses and flats took place at a smaller scale before and after the crime described, but not necessarily by the same perpetrators or in the same circumstances. To this day 12 victims are considered missing who had disappeared during the described period.

victims – missing:

  1. Danica Barać (born in 1923) – went missing on 14 October 1991
  2. Mile Čubelić (born in 1941) – went missing on 17 October 1991
  3. Gojko Hinić (born in 1949) – went missing on 17 October 1991
  4. Borislav Marić (born in 1945) – went missing on 16 October 1991
  5. Anđelka Pantelić (born in 1941) – went missing on 17 October 1991
  6. Mirjana Pantelić (born in 1963) – went missing on 17 October 1991
  7. Dragan Rakić (born in 1960) – went missing on 18 October 1991
  8. Nikola Serdar (born in 1903) – went missing on 17 October 1991
  9. Milan Smiljanić (born in 1947) – went missing on 16 October
  10. Nikola Stojanović (born in 1927) – went missing on 17 October 1991
  11. Božidar Tomičić (born in 1953) – went missing on 17 October 1991
  12. Nebojša Trešnjić (born in 1953) – went missing on 17 October 1991

information on exhumation and identification of victims: JNA, i.e. members of the 6th Lika brigade found on 25 December 1991, 24 charred bodies in the area of Duge Njive village east of Perušić. Doctor Zoran Stanković from the Belgrade Military Medical Academy carried out external inspections of the dead bodies. Among the identified were: Radmila Stanić, Branko Kuzma Nović, Branko Štulić, Stanko Smiljanić, Radojka Diklić, Mirjana Kalanj, Đorđe Kalanj, Dane Bulj, Milan Pantelić, Mileva Orlović, Miloš Orlović, Radovan Barać, Ljubica Trifunović, Petar Lazić, Borka Vraneš, Bogdan Šuput, Dušanka Vraneš, Nikola Gajić and Željko Mrkić, i.e. 19 of 24 victims. 18 bodies were then buried in a mass grave on Debelo Brdo and six of them in individual graves. On 16 and 17 December 2000, 18 bodies were unearthed at Debelo Brdo and were then examined by experts from the Institute for Forensic Medicine and Criminology Rijeka, and identification through DNA analysis was carried out, which resulted in identification of 15 remains, while three were not identified. Identifications of 13 persons recognized in 1991 were confirmed and more persons were identified: Mićo Pejnović and Sofija Lončar and in July 2014, at the institute for Forensics in Zagreb, the remains of Stanko Smiljanić and Željko Mrkić were identified.

judicial consequences: A County Court Rijeka verdict from March 2003, which was confirmed by the Supreme Court verdict in June 2014, sentenced Tihomir Orešković as the main order issuing authority, to 15 years in prison, Mirko Norac to 12 and Stjepan Grandić to 10 years in prison. Since Mirko Norac was already convicted with a six year sentence for crimes in Medak Pocket, his sentences were merged and totalled 15 years in prison and after two thirds of the prison term he was released from prison. The other two convicted persons were also released. Although numerous other officers and soldiers took part either in planning, organizing, or execution of the crimes, only the mentioned three, certainly the most responsible ones, were criminally charged.