Scorpions (paramilitary)

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Not to be confused with Serb Volunteer Guard.
Scorpions
Active 1991–1999
Country Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (1991)
 Republic of Serbian Krajina (1992–1995)
Federal Republic of Yugoslavia Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (1995–1999)
Type Paramilitary unit
Engagements
Disbanded Yes

The Scorpions (Serbian Cyrillic: Шкорпиони) were a Serbian paramilitary unit active during the Yugoslav Wars. The unit was involved in war crimes during the wars in Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo. After the wars, four members of the unit were found guilty of killing six prisoners during the Srebrenica massacre of July 1995 and five were found guilty of killing fourteen civilians, mostly women and children, during the Podujevo massacre in March 1999.

History[edit]

The Scorpions were founded in 1991 as a regular unit of the Yugoslav People's Army (JNA).[1] They identified as Chetniks.[2] Dozens of men joined the unit in mid-1991.[3] Initially composed of Serbs from eastern Slavonia, the unit began its operations during the Battle of Vukovar in late 1991. It was led by two brothers, Slobodan and Aleksandar Medić, and was named after their favourite weapon—the Škorpion vz. 61. The unit was one of several hundred armed groups used by Bosnian and Croatian Serb military authorities for the purpose of terrorizing the non-Serb population in the Republika Srpska and the Republic of Srpska Krajina.[4] In 1992, the Scorpions came under the command of the Army of the Republic of Serb Krajina (ARSK).[1]

The Scorpions became part of the Ministry of Internal Affairs at some point in 1995.[1] They participated in the Srebrenica massacre in July 1995.[4] During the Kosovo War, the Scorpions were placed under the command of the Special Anti-Terrorist Unit (SAJ).[1] They were involved in the Podujevo massacre in March 1999. The massacre resulted in the deaths of 14 Kosovo Albanians, mostly women and children.[5] Following the Yugoslav Wars, the majority of soldiers who fought with the Scorpions moved to the town of Šid. Some remained in Vukovar.[3]

Prosecutions[edit]

In 2004, Saša Cvjetan was charged for his role in the Podujevo massacre and was sentenced by a Serbian court to a twenty-year jail term.[6] In 2009, four more Scorpions were jailed in Serbia for their role in the massacre. Željko Djukić, Dragan Medić and Dragan Borojević received twenty-year sentences, while Miodrag Šolaja received a fifteen-year sentence.[7] In 2005, a videotape showing the Scorpions killing six Bosniak prisoners was shown at the trial of Slobodan Milošević. The tape caused an uproar in Serbia and the actions of the Scorpions were condemned by many politicians. Several members of the unit were quickly arrested.[8] Five members of the unit were charged with the murders. In 2007, Slobodan and Branislav Medić were jailed for twenty years, Pera Petrašević was jailed for thirteen years, Aleksandar Medić was sentenced to five years and Aleksandar Vukov was acquitted.[9] Slobodan Medić and his wife and son were killed in an automobile accident in Serbia in December 2013. Medić was returning to prison after having been granted weekend leave by prison authorities.[10]

In popular culture[edit]

A fictionalized version of the Scorpions is depicted in the 2013 film Killing Season, starring Robert de Niro and John Travolta.[11]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Gordy 2013, p. 225.
  2. ^ Totten & Bartrop 2008a, p. 68.
  3. ^ a b Nicholas Wood (13 June 2005). "A soldier's past catches up". The New York Times. Retrieved 16 February 2014. 
  4. ^ a b Totten & Bartrop 2008b, p. 390.
  5. ^ "Former paramilitary fighters charged with war crimes in Kosovo". The New York Times. 21 April 2008. Retrieved 16 February 2014. 
  6. ^ Serb jailed for Kosovo killings
  7. ^ Serbia jails ex-paramilitaries for killings
  8. ^ Totten & Bartrop 2008b, pp. 390–391.
  9. ^ "Jail for Serb video death squad". BBC. 10 April 2007. Retrieved 16 February 2014. 
  10. ^ "Former paramilitary commander reportedly killed in car crash". B92. 1 January 2014. Retrieved 16 February 2014. 
  11. ^ Alissa Simon (30 June 2013). "Karlovy Vary Film Review: ‘Killing Season’". Variety. Retrieved 16 February 2014. 

Bibliography[edit]