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White Eagles (paramilitary)

White Eagles
Бели орлови
Beli orlovi
White eagles.svg
Coat-of-arms of the White Eagles
Republic of Serbian Krajina
Republika Srpska
Nickname(s)Avengers (Osvetnici)
Šešelj's men (Šešeljevci)
EngagementsBattle of Vukovar (among others)
Mirko Jović
Vojislav Šešelj

The White Eagles (Serbian: Бели орлови / Beli orlovi), also known as the Avengers (Осветници / Osvetnici),[1] were a Serbian paramilitary group associated with the Serbian National Renewal (SNO) and the Serbian Radical Party (SRS).[2][3] The White Eagles fought in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina during the Yugoslav Wars.[2][3]

In the 2003 ICTY Vojislav Šešelj indictment, the group is included as an alleged party in the joint criminal enterprise, in which Vojislav Šešelj allegedly took part. In the indictment the group is identified as "volunteer units including 'Chetnik', or Šešeljevci (Serbian Cyrillic: Шешељевци, translated into English as 'Šešelj's men')".[4] This association has been denied by SRS leader Vojislav Šešelj.[5]


Although the group's members were occasionally referred to as Chetniks,[6] they are not to be confused with the Serbian anticommunist guerrilla group during and after World War II also known as the White Eagles and also referred to as Chetniks. The name White Eagles comes from an anti-communist organisation that was formed during World War II and continued a guerrilla war against Tito's government after the war.[citation needed] White Eagle refers to the national symbol of Serbia, the double headed white eagle under a crown.


The White Eagles paramilitary group was formed in late 1990 by Dragoslav Bokan and Mirko Jović. The group split into different fractions as Bokan and Jović went their separate ways in 1991.[7][8][9] Jović called for "a Christian, Orthodox Serbia with no Muslims and no unbelievers".[10][11] Šešelj states that the group was started by Jović but they got out of his control.[12] According to Šešelj the White Eagles and Arkan's Tigers operated with help from the Yugoslav counterintelligence service.[13]

War crimes

Paramilitary units are responsible for some of the most brutal aspects of "ethnic cleansing". Two of the units that have played a major role in the "ethnic cleansing" campaign in BiH, the "Cetniks" associated with Vojislav Šešelj and the "Tigers" associated with Željko Ražnatović (Arkan), have been active in the Republic of Serbia as well. Seselj's followers have reportedly waged "ethnic cleansing" campaigns against ethnic minorities in Serbia's provinces of Vojvodina and Kosovo.[14]

— Report of the United Nations Commission on ethnic cleansing in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Testimony at the International War Crimes Tribunal indicates that the White Eagles were responsible for a number of atrocities[3] during the Croatian and Bosnian wars, including: the Voćin massacre,[15][16] Višegrad massacre,[17] crimes at Foča,[18] Gacko[19] and others. Various members of the White Eagles were indicted by the Tribunal.[20][21] Mitar Vasiljević received a fifteen-year sentence.[22] Former head, Milan Lukić, received a life sentence for his war crimes which include murdering men, women and children.[23]

It has been also reported that White Eagles managed a detention camp in Liješće, near Bosanski Brod.[24]


In December 2010 a group called "Beli Orlovi" (White Eagles) took responsibility for the killing of Kosovo's Bosniak leader Šefko Salković in the north of Kosovo. The group also took responsibility for obstructions of the election process in northern Kosovska Mitrovica, as well as for attacking KFOR troops.[25][26]

See also


  1. ^ "ICTY: Milan Lukić and Sredoje Lukić judgement" (PDF).
  2. ^ a b "Profile: Vojislav Seselj" BBC News 27 November 2006
  3. ^ a b c Allen, Beverly (1996) Rape Warfare: The Hidden Genocide in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, Minnesota, pp. 154-155, ISBN 0-8166-2818-1
  4. ^ ICTY, Vojislav Seselj indictment, 15 January 2003
  5. ^ "In previous wars (Bosnia, Croatia) there was a small paramilitary organisation called White Eagles, but the Serb Radical Party had absolutely nothing to do with them."Testimony of Vojislav Šešelj, Transcript of 23 August 2005, p. 43081, lines 16-18
  6. ^ United Nations Commission on Breaches of Geneva Law in Former Yugoslavia
  7. ^ Glenny, Misha (1992) The Fall of Yugoslavia: The Third Balkan War Penguin, London, p. 39, ISBN 0-14-017288-2
  8. ^ Tanner, Marcus (1997) Croatia: a nation forged in war Yale University Press, New Haven, Connecticut, p. 245, ISBN 0-300-07668-1
  9. ^ THE INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL TRIBUNAL FOR THE FORMER YUGOSLAVIA Case No. IT-02-54-T, Prosecution's Second Pre-Trial Brief (Croatia and Bosnia Indictments) 31 May 2002, p. 90
  10. ^ Velikonja, Mitja (1992). Religious Separation and Political Intolerance in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Texas A&M University Press. ISBN 978-1-58544-226-3.
  11. ^ Sells, Michael Anthony. The Bridge Betrayed. Religion and Genocide in Bosnia. University of California Press, 1996.
  12. ^ Testimony of Vojislav Šešelj, Transcript of 24 August 2005, p. 43128, lines 6-8
  13. ^ Lukic, Rénéo (1996). Europe from the Balkans to the Urals: The Disintegration of Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union. Oxford University Press. p. 190. ISBN 978-0-19-829200-5.
  14. ^ Bassiouni, Cherif (28 December 1994). "Final report of the United Nations Commission of Experts established pursuant to security council resolution 780". United Nations. Retrieved 13 May 2010.
  15. ^ Blaskovich, Jerry (1 November 2002) "The Ghastly Slaughter of Vocin Revisited:Lest We Forget" The New Generation Hrvatski Vjesnik--English supplement
  16. ^ Testimony of Djuro Matovina, Transcript of 7 October 2002, p. 11049, lines 12-16
  17. ^ "Updates From the International Criminal Courts" p. 40, 20 July 2007, American University Washington College of Law: War Crimes Research Office
  18. ^ Testimony of Witness 52, Transcript of 27 March 2000
  19. ^ Testimony of Witness 192, Transcript of 4 May 2000
  20. ^ "AU Washington College of Law: War Crimes Research Office - ICTY Status Reports" 21 February 2006, from Internet Archive
  21. ^ Croatian "Evening News" 9 September 2001, from Internet Archive
  22. ^ "Mitar Vasiljević Sentenced to 15 Years’ Imprisonment" International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia
  23. ^ "ICTY: Milan Lukić and Sredoje Lukić judgement" (PDF). Retrieved 24 November 2014.
  24. ^ Prison Camps
  25. ^ VOA News, Kosovo Holds First Parliamentary Election, 12 December 2010. "A Serb group calling itself White Eagles claimed responsibility for the attack - and also said it carried out the killing of a Bosniak election official last week."
  26. ^, Serb organization “Beli Orlovi” takes over the killing of Salkovic, 14. December 2010.

External links