Trial of Mihailović et al.

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Defendant Dragoljub Mihailović.

The Trial of Draža Mihailović et al., or the Belgrade Process, was the trial of Draža Mihailović and a number of other prominent alleged collaborators for high treason and war crimes in 1946.

Mihailović was tried as a leader of the Chetnik movement during World War II (the "Yugoslav Army in the Fatherland", JVUO). His co-defendants were other prominent figures of the movement and members of the Yugoslav government-in-exile, such as Slobodan Jovanović, but also members of ZBOR and of the Nedić regime like Velibor Jonić.[1] The trial opened on June 10, 1946, before the Military Council of the Supreme Court of the Federal People’s Republic of Yugoslavia, and lasted until July 15, 1946. The court was located in the Summer Hall of the Infantry Training School at Topčider in Belgrade.

Trial opened in the presence of about 60 foreign journalists.[2]

Indictment[edit]

The accused were tried before a military court. The President of the council was Mihailo Đordević and the members Milija Laković and Mihailo Janković, with Todor Popadić as secretary. The assistant judges were Nikola Stanković and Radomir Ilić. The prosecutor was Miloš Minić, a high-ranking government official who took part in Tito-Mihailović negotiations in 1941. The assistant prosecutor was Miloš Jovanović.

Mihailović and others were tried mainly for their activities against Allied forces, the Yugoslav Partisans, for collaboration with the Germans and for war crimes against civilians. Mihailović was indicted on 47 counts. He was found guilty of all with overwhelming evidence.[3]

The Allied airmen he had rescued in 1944 were not allowed to testify in his favor. Only two women came to testify in favor of Mihailović. Reportedly, they were heckled by the audience and, after the trial, submitted to a professional interdiction.[4]

Indictees[edit]

Confrontation of Draža Mihailović and Dragi Jovanović on trial in Belgrade 1946.

The accused were, in order their names were read out at the trial:

  1. Draža Mihailović
  2. Stevan Moljević
  3. Mladen Žujović
  4. Živko Topalović
  5. Đuro Vilović
  6. Rade Radić
  7. Slavoljub Vranješević
  8. Miloš Glišić
  9. Slobodan Jovanović
  10. Božidar Purić
  11. Momčilo Ninčić
  12. Petar Živković
  13. Radoje Knežević
  14. Milan Gavrilović
  15. Živan Knežević
  16. Konstantin Fotić
  17. Dragomir "Dragi" Jovanović
  18. Tanasije Dinić
  19. Velibor Jonić
  20. Đura Dokić
  21. Kosta Mušicki
  22. Boško Pavlović
  23. Laza Marković
  24. Kosta Kumanudi

Out of the twenty-four accused individuals mentioned above, ten were tried in absentia:

  1. Slobodan Jovanović, PM of the government in exile
  2. Božidar Purić, PM of the government in exile
  3. Petar Živković, minister of the government in exile
  4. Momcilo Ninčić, minister of the government in exile
  5. Milan Gavrilović, ministers of the government in exile
  6. Radoje Knežević, minister of the government in exile
  7. Konstantin Fotić, ambassador of the government in exile to the USA
  8. Major Živan Knežević, director of the military chancellery of the presidium of the government in exile
  9. Živko Topalović, political leader of the Četnik movement.
  10. Mladen Žujović, political leader of the Četnik movement.

Legal Advisors[edit]

Mihailovic seized archives, the main evidence in the Belgrade process.

The following were represented by the counsel chosen by themselves:

The others were defended by the counsel chosen by the Court:

Foreign Accreditations[edit]

Teams were sent by the agencies TASS, ČTK, PAP, Reuters, Associated Press, Agence France-Presse, United Press, Overseas News Agency, International News Service, the Jewish News Agency, Tele Press, the Albanian Telegraph Agency and the following newspapers: Pravda, Izvestia, The Times, the Daily Worker, The New York Times, the New York Herald Tribune, the News Chronicle, the Daily Express and others.

Convictions and Death Sentence[edit]

Mihailović was sentenced to death by a firing squad on 15 July 1946. An appeal was rejected on 16 July and he was executed on 17 July along with a few others. The others in the process were convicted to penalties ranging from death to long prison sentences.

Mihailović is quoted as saying, in his final statement, "I wanted much; I began much; but the gale of the world carried away me and my work.".[5] "Gale of the world" is sometimes translated "Winds of War."

Reactions[edit]

In six days of questioning by the public prosecutor, Mihaylovitch admitted to guilt on practically all counts, although he appears to have done his best to shield behind a plea that he was a victim of circumstance and of the disobedience of his own commanders in the field.[6]

The trial showed, according to historian Jozo Tomasevich, that Mihailović had never had firm and full control over his local commanders.[7] A committee for the fair trial of General Mihailovic was set up in the United States, but to no avail.

Diplomat and author Walter Roberts considers that the trial was "anything but a model of justice" and that "it is clear that Mihailović was not guilty of all, or even many, of the charges brought against him" though Tito would probably not have had a fair trial either, had Mihailović prevailed.[8]

At the time of the trial, there were protests from the Americans and the French, although both were moderated by their interest in the new government.[9]

According to Mihailović biographer Jean-Christophe Buisson, one of Mihailović's lawyers, Dragić Joksimović, was arrested a few days after the execution and died in prison under unclear circumstances.[10]

Modern views[edit]

More recently, there have been calls[by whom?] for a retrial and/or rehabilitation. Thus far, Momčilo Ninčić and Slobodan Jovanović have been officially rehabilitated in Serbia.[11][12]

Proceedings[edit]

Date Event
13 March Mihailović is captured.
24 March Aleksandar Ranković announces the capture of Mihailović, as well as charges against him.
2 April The US State Department announces it has requested that American Army personnel be allowed to testify at the trial.[13]
17 May The trial is delayed to 10 June.
10 June The trial begins.
15 July Death sentence delivered to Mihailović. He is given eight and a half hours to appeal to the Yugoslav Presidency.
16 July Appeal is denied by the Presidency.
17 July Execution by firing squad is carried out.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Jean-Christophe Buisson, Le Général Mihailovic : héros trahi par les Alliés 1893-1946, Perrin, Paris, 1999, page 262
  2. ^ Basil Davidson: PARTISAN PICTURE
  3. ^ The trial of Dragoljub-Draža Mihailović stenographic record and documents from the trial of Dragoljub-Draža Mihailović.
  4. ^ Jean-Christophe Buisson, Le Général Mihailovic : héros trahi par les Alliés 1893-1946, Perrin, Paris, 1999, pp 260-263
  5. ^ One Who Survived, Time, 7 October 1957
  6. ^ Basil Davidson: PARTISAN PICTURE
  7. ^ Jozo Tomasevich, The Chetniks: war and revolution in Yugoslavia, 1941-1945, Stanford University Press, 1999, pp 462-463
  8. ^ Walter R. Roberts, Tito, Mihailović and the Allies 1941-1945, Rutgers University Press, page 307
  9. ^ Martin, David. Patriot or Traitor: The Case of General Mihailović: Proceedings and Report of the Commission of Inquiry of the Committee for a Fair Trial for Draja Mihailović. Hoover Archival Documentaries. Hoover Institution Publication, volume 191. Stanford, CA: Hoover Institution Press, Stanford University, 1978.
  10. ^ Jean-Christophe Buisson, Le Général Mihailovic : héros trahi par les Alliés 1893-1946, Perrin, Paris, 1999, page 271
  11. ^ Rehabilitacija Slobodana Jovanovića, Vreme
  12. ^ Rehabilitovan Slobodan Jovanović, B92
  13. ^ U.S. Defends Mihailovic in Note to Yugoslavs, The Milwaukee Sentinel - Apr 3, 1946.

Further reading[edit]

  • Marcia Christoff Kurapovna (2010). Shadows on the mountain: the Allies, the Resistance, and the rivalries that doomed WWII Yugoslavia. John Wiley and Sons. ISBN 978-0-470-08456-4.  chapter 10

External links[edit]