Archive for Bosnia

Mićo Jovičić sentenced to 5 years in prison for Strpci kidnappings

Posted in Visegrad with tags , , , , on November 26, 2016 by visegrad92

Following the review and acceptance of the Guilty Plea Agreement in the case v. Mićo Jovičić, the Trial Panel of the Section I for War Crimes of the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina handed down on 16 November 2016 the Verdict under which the Accused Mićo Jovičić is found guilty of the criminal offense of War Crimes against Civilians in violation of Article 142(1) as read with Article 22 of the Criminal Code of the Socialist Federative Republic of Yugoslavia (CC of SFRY) and sentenced to five (5) years in prison.

The Accused Mićo Jovičić is found guilty because during the armed conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina between June 1992 and December 1995, in the territory of municipalities of Rudo and Višegrad, between the Army of Republika Srpska (VRS) and Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina, as members of the Army of Republika Srpska namely, L.D. as a commander of the 2nd Podrinje Light Infantry Brigade – Višegrad (2.PLPB-Višegrad), B.I. as a commander of the Intervention company within the said Brigade, and O.P., N.P., D.Š., O.K., P.I., R.R., V.R. and Mićo Jovičić, as members of the Intervention company or members of the 1st Company, the 1st Battalion, the 2nd Podrinje Light Infantry Brigade Višegrad, acted in violation of the rules of international humanitarian law violating Article 3(1) a) of the Geneva Convention relative to Protection of Civilian Persons at time of War dated 12 August 1949.

Pursuant to Article 188(4) the Accused is relieved of the duty to reimburse the costs of the criminal proceedings.

The Court also rendered the Decision extending the prohibiting measures: travel ban with the seizure of travel documents and prohibition to use the identity card to cross the state border. The said measures shall be in place no later than the Accused is committed to serve the sentence and if he violates the measures he may be ordered into custody.

(Source: Court of B&H)

Bikavac exhumation 25.2.2016

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 5, 2016 by visegrad92

56cf00eb-da6c-4a87-93b1-269c0a0a0a64-ekshumacija-bikavac-718x446

 

25.2.2016 – An exhumation was carried out on the foundations of Meho Aljic’s house in Bikavac where on 27.6.1992 one of the worst war crimes was committed during the genocide 1992-95. At least 70 women and children were burnt alive by Bosnian Serb soldiers.

On 25.2.2016, the Missing Persons Institute conducted an exhumation on this location and found one piece of human bone. There were several exhumations conducted on this location but this was the first time a human bone was discovered.

The crime scene was destroyed by the local authorities during or after the war. The house was bulldozed and the site was turned into a garbage dump.

DNA analysis will be conducted on the discovered bone in order to try and establish an identity of a victim.

56cf0143-7bec-4011-a3dc-269c0a0a0a64-ekshumacija-bikavac-3

Photo credits: Avaz

 

Italian-Chetnik cooperation in World War Two

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on December 29, 2015 by visegrad92

4023

Image: An Italian soldier and a local Serb Royalist Soldier (Chetnik) pose for a photograph with the Chetnik flag near Visegrad in 1942.

Visegrad Genocide Quotes – 1

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 24, 2015 by visegrad92

quotescover-JPG-20

Dragan Sekaric sentenced for 14 years for Visegrad crimes

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 22, 2015 by visegrad92

Dragan.Sekaric
Image: Bosnian Serb Dragan Sekaric

Former Bosnian Serb Army soldier Dragan Sekaric was sentenced to 14 years in prison for rape and murder in the village of Kosovo Polje in the Visegrad municipality in 1992.
Sekaric was found guilty on Friday of going to a house in Kosovo Polje in June 1992 with other Bosnian Serb soldiers and taking several civilians outside, after which he raped a woman inside the house.

He was also convicted of pushing a civilian called Fatima Jamak into a burning house on the same day, and killing her afterwards.

Presiding judge Mira Smajlovic said that the Bosnian prosecution had proved that Sekaric committed his crimes with intent and that the testimonies of the rape victim and another witness who in the village were “convincing and objective”.

“The defence challenged the credibility of witnesses S1 [the victim] and S3 [the eyewitness], considering their descriptions of a person they knew as Dragan Gorazdak differed. However, the trial chamber finds that the witnesses gave satisfactory explanations for these differences. Namely, they were in a state of fear and it is clear why they did not remember details they did not find important,” said Smajlovic.

The judge also said that Sekaric’s alibi – given by his uncle, who testified that the defendant was in Serbia – was not convincing.

Smajlovic said that while considering the 14-year sentence, the court took into account the fact that he was a family man with two children as a mitigating circumstance and the brutality of his crime as an aggravating circumstance.

The verdict however acquitted Sekaric of taking part in an attack on Kokino Selo in Gorazde, robbing and taking away a man and his son from Visegrad, both of whom were never seen again, and beating a prisoner in the Uzamnica detention camp.

Smajlovic said witness testimonies about the attack on Kokino Selo only offered “second hand and imprecise” details about Sekaric. She said that the testimony of a witness about the Visegrad incident was also not convincing.

Regarding the prisoner abuse charge, Smajlovic explained that the Bosnian prosecution had failed to call a victim to testify.

“Because of the procedural mistakes of the Bosnian prosecution and the lack of evidence, the trial chamber had no other options then to acquit the defendant of this charge,” said the judge.

RADOMIR ŠUŠNJAR AKA LALCO SUSPECTED OF WAR CRIMES IN VISEGRAD ARRESTED IN FRANCE.

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on July 25, 2014 by visegrad92

607_20140404182331_susnjar
After months of operative activities the Prosecutor and Investigators of the Prosecutor’s Office of BiH, located the suspect in France. The French authorities were requested to arrest and extradite him to Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Following months of verifications and investigative activities the Prosecutor of the Special Department for War Crimes of the Prosecutor’s Office of BiH has, together with Investigators of the Prosecutor’s Office of BiH, located the suspect Radomir Šušnjar in the territory of the French Republic.

After he was located, the French judicial and police authorities were requested to arrest him immediately and to extradite him to the Judiciary of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Significant cooperation was achieved with the Office of the ICTY Prosecutor in The Hague during the course of these activities.

Radomir Šušnjar is suspected of being personally and directly involved in committing a horrible crime, publicly known as the “living bonfire” at a house located in Pionirska Street in Višegrad, together with Milan Lukic, who is on trial at The Hague Tribunal, and some other persons.

In July 1992 more than 60 Bosniak civilians, including women and children, from the area of Višegrad were captured in that house and then set on fire, while at the same time automatic weapons were used to fire inside the house.

On that occasion 59 people were killed and only seven of the victims managed to escape and survive.

The suspect Radomir Šušnjar is under investigation by the Prosecutor’s Office of BiH and is suspected of having personally participated in the incarceration of the victims in a house in the Pionirska Street and its subsequent setting on fire.

The Prosecutor’s Office of BiH would like to thank the Embassy of France in BiH, the BiH Embassy in Paris, the Judiciary and the Police of the French Republic, the Interpol office in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Central Office of Interpol in Lyon, the Court of BiH, the Office of the Prosecutor at the ICTY and all other institutions that have helped in tracing, locating and the arrest of this suspect.

The Prosecutor’s Office of BiH expects that he will soon be extradited to BiH Judiciary hence the activities in the aim of indicting continue. The aforementioned event is a clear message to all war crimes suspects that the Prosecutor’s Office of BiH and law enforcement agencies will locate and prosecute the suspects no matter where they are hiding, all n the interest of the rule of law, peace and reconciliation in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Killing Bosnia’s Ghosts: Fighting to Remember the Balkan War Genocide

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on April 26, 2014 by visegrad92

On  the day that Bosnian Serb authorities finally went to remove the word “genocide” from the memorial plaque commemorating the mass killing of Muslims in Visegrad in 1992, Bakira Hasecic woke up early, along with a few other women.

She had stayed overnight in the house she still owns in the eastern Bosnian town, although she now lives in Sarajevo. The morning was brisk but not particularly cold, a rarity in those January days.

Their intention was to stop what they saw as desecration of the memorial. They were too late.

When she arrived at the Straziste Muslim cemetery, 150 police in riot gear were lined up along the road, some shaking off the crisp mountain air, others laughing at her.

Visibly distressed and with her legs shaking, Bakira hurried to cover the gravestones bearing the names of Serb war criminals Milan and Sredoje Lukic and T-shirts printed with the names of those who died.

A local woman discreetly wrote “genocide” back on the memorial in lipstick. The inscription, once chiselled into the stone, had been removed by a workman with an angle grinder.

The Stražište memorial

The Stražište memorial in VisegradIBT

“They are bothered by the word ‘genocide’. They cannot face the truth,” Bakira, a survivor of the Balkan war who was raped multiple times by Serb paramilitaries led by Milan Lukic, told IBTimes UK.

After 20 years, a bitter struggle over collective memory still haunts this sleepy town in Republica Srpska, the ethnically cleansed enclave carved out in the 1992-95 conflict.

What Bosnian Serbs did to Muslims in 1992 they are still doing today, minimising and concealing those crimes.
Bilal Memisevic

In August 1992, while the capital Sarajevo was under siege, Visegrad, strategically located on the majestic River Drina between Bosnia and Serbia, was taken over by Serb forces and purged of its majority Muslim population in a campaign of terror carried out by Lukic and his cousin Sredoje.

Muslim men were rounded up and murdered. Hundreds of women were detained and mass-raped at the spa, the infamous Vilina Vlas. Women, children and elderly people were locked in houses and burnt to death.

A widespread culture of denial in Visegrad is now being encouraged by Serb nationalists who want separatism from Bosnia.

“What Bosnian Serbs did to Muslims in 1992 they are still doing today, minimising and concealing those crimes,” says Bilal Memisevic, president of the local Muslim community.

Barimo

Barimo is a hamlet nestled in the folds of the hills, at 15-minute car ride from Visegrad, along the emerald waters of the Drina.

Only 78 Bosnian Muslims lived there before the war, in modest houses overlooking green meadows and plum orchards on the riverbanks. In the early hours of August 1992, Serb forces entered the village for a killing spree. Twenty-six people – mostly women and children – were massacred.

Barimo memorial

Memorial in Barimo for those who were killed in 1992IBT

Resident Suljo Fejzic was sheltering with his family in a village above Barimo. He sneaked into the village that morning, finding his way among the bushes and the mountain pines.

“When we entered the village all the houses were burning. Everything was burning,” he recounts.

“At the bank of the river they executed 12 people and put the bodies in a pile, at the place where the stream joins the river Drina. Later when we got back to the village, we came across people who had been killed trying to escape, we found people who had been shot in the head while lying on the ground”.

The river

The oldest victim was Hanka Halilovich, who was born in 1900, and the youngest was 12-year-old Fadila Bajric. As late as 2004, Fejzic and other villagers kept finding bodies in half-burnt houses, the victims executed with their faces in the dirt.

“But the largest mass grave is the river,” he tells IBTimes UK, pointing to where a silent stream meets the Drina.

Bodies of lifeless Muslims were floating on the Drina like ants. My house was near the bank of Drina, which was filled with blood.
Bakira Hasecic

The river and the grand 16th-century bridge built on 11 arches that decorates Visegrad were made famous by the 1945 masterpiece by Nobel prize-winning writer Ivo Andric in The Bridge on the Drina. The novel captures the construction of the Mehmed Paša Sokolović Bridge and the uneasy relationship between the cultures of Christian Europe and the Islamic Ottoman Empire, a relationship that still exists albeit in a different form.

A Unesco World Heritage Site, the bridge became during the war the nightmarish bloodsoaked centre of the town, a place where Bosnian Muslim men, women and children were slaughtered by Bosnian Serb paramilitary forces and thrown into the river. Lukic troops used to grab any piece of glass they could find and slit the throat of innocent civilians. One victim was found with a screwdriver in their neck.

River Drina and the Bridge

The Bridge on the Drina river in VisegradIBT

“Bodies of lifeless Muslims were floating on the Drina like ants. My house was near the bank of Drina, which was filled with blood,” says Bakira Hasecic.

This immense, underwater graveyard is the perfect metaphor for Visegrad, where the past is “unforgiven, unforgotten, unresolved” as correspondent Alec Russell put it.

Before the war, 63% of the town’s 25,000 people were Bosnian Muslims. Despite the Dayton peace agreement calling for the Bosnian Muslims to be able to return to their homes, only around 5% have come back.

“Only a few have returned to the town itself. Most have gone back to the surrounding villages where they can be with other returnees, earning a living from livestock and agriculture,” says Jasna Causevic, of the German group Society for Threatened Peoples.

Sometimes, though, the past emerges in full force from the swamps of history.

When in 2010 the water levels of the reservoir behind the Bajna Bast hydroeletric dam – called Lake Perucac – further downstream were lowered the remains of more than 160 civilian victims from Visegrad were found in a 50km-stretch of lake bed.

forensic expert from the International Commission On Missing Persons uncovers human remains near the eastern Bosnian town of Visegrad

Forensic expert from the International Commission On Missing Persons uncovers human remains near the eastern Bosnian town of VisegradAFP/Getty Images

At least 3,000 Muslims were massacred in the eastern Bosnian town. But to many Serbs the 1992 attack was a preventive strike whose aim was to avoid a repetition of past slavery under the Ottomans.

Muslims used to prosper under the Ottoman Empire but the Serbs were serfs, uneducated and exploited for manual labour.

President Slobodan Milosevic’s idea of a “Greater Serbia” appealed to many of his local countrymen and laid the foundation for the massacre that followed.

At the start of the 1992 war, short-term actions of resistance by Bosniaks provided the perfect excuse for an alternative Serbian narrative of the war. A small group of Bosniaks took control of the Bajna Basta dam on Lake Perucac and threatened to open it, threatening massive flooding downstream and sabotaging the electricity supply to parts of Serbia.

Adem Omeragic house

The battle for memory and the power to write history are entangled in the bare bricks of another key building of the town. On Pionirska Street, the Serb administration wants to demolish Adem Omeragic’s house, where one of the worst atrocities of the war was committed by Milan Lukic.

Such was its ferocity that it was singled out by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.

At least 59 Muslim women, children and elderly people were locked in the house and burned alive after they had been rounded up, raped, sexually abused and robbed. Some witnesses put the death toll higher.

“Some of them who survived sexual abuse were killed in one of the rooms in the basement. There were the remains of more than 70 of them, 49 women alone and about 20 children after the burning and devastation,” says Bakira Hasecic.

With her Association of Women Victims of War, Hasecic rebuilt the house in two weeks and says she has been given permission by the owner to turn it into a memorial.

Adem Omeragic house in Pionirska Street

Adem Omeragic house in Pionirska StreetIBT

“We reconstructed the house from the same material, exactly the way it used to be before, identical to how it was before it was burned with people inside,” she says.

“However, I encountered resistance in the municipality of Visegrad. What I had to suffer on those days when we started rebuilding the house in some moments was more difficult than 1992. Every day, for about 12 days when we began to work behind the house, some 15 to 20 police officers would come in, obstruct us, and put pressure on us.”

Serbs are not allowed to make any kind of memorial in Sarajevo, where I lived for some 18 years
Slavisa Miskovic

The municipality claims that according to the town’s planning map, a road was due to be built through the place where the house stood. The mayor of Visegrad, Slavisa Miskovic, confirms that  “manipulacija”, political manipulation, is playing a part.

“No one denies that a crime happened there, but what is happening now is to do with the building of the road. I didn’t come up with this proposal, these proposals were inherited from the previous administration,” the mayor says.

Bakira Hasecic

Bakira HasecicIBT

In the gentle wrinkles of her face, Bakira still shows the psychological scars of sexual violence and abuse.In 1992, she was forced to watch as a group of Serbs that included her next-door neighbour raped her 18-year-old daughter.

The girl’s head was cracked with a rifle butt but she managed to survive. Her sister, however, was raped and killed by Lukic troops in the infamous rape camps of Vilina Vlas spa. Bakira herself was raped countless times in her home and at the local police station.

“I was a happy woman, I worked in the municipality, 90% of my friends were Serbs and they killed everything that was beautiful in me,” she says.

Erasing the past

The Serb Democratic Party (SDS), which has run Visegrad municipality since October 2012, denies that there has been any “disturbance” against Muslim returnees in the town and seizes on legal jargon to erase memories of the 1992 genocide.

Slavisa Miskovic, the mayor, is an outspoken and animated man who at first sight bears no resemblance to the perpetrators of the war. He talks of respect for all victims of war, regardless of nationality and ethnic origin, and cautiously admits that not enough has been done for Bosniak returnees in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

But when he turns to the disputed Stražište memorial commemorating the Bosniak genocide, the alternative reality of the war re-emerges in full force.

Slavisa Miskovic, mayor of Visegrad

Slavisa Miskovic, mayor of VisegradIBT

He says the “genocide” inscription was removed from the memorial because there was no planning permission granted and because the word itself was dangerously emotive and had no legal basis.

“Serbs are not allowed to make any kind of memorial in Sarajevo, where I lived for some 18 years,” he says.

“Regarding the disputed monument on Stražište there are no arguments or legal basis for the use of such a word [genocide] and it causes destabilisation in the municipality of Visegrad,” Miskovic adds.

Those responsible for the massacres, Milan and Sredoje Lukic, are serving respectively a life sentence in Estonia and 27 years in Norway. But the mayor argues that there have been no convictions at the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia at The Hague for genocide.

Statue of Nobel prize winner Ivo Andrić dominates Andricgrad main square

Nobel prize winner Ivo AndrićIBT

He says the activists demanding recognition of what happened to the Muslim community in those dark days are manipulating that community. His administration, he maintains, is adhering to all legal procedures and prefers to look to the future.

He proudly displays an architectural plan of the controversial Andricgrad theme park, a “town within a town” dedicated to literature that will be inaugurated in June with the aim of providing jobs to Bosniaks and Serbs alike and boost tourism.

This geometric reverie, a sort of half-deserted pastiche of Bosnia’s histories and architectural styles, has been conceived and will be built by two-time Cannes Film Festival winner Emir Kusturica, a Serbian. It is being raised on the site of a former sports centre that was used as a detention camp during the 1992-95 war.

The thing that prevents peace from being stabilised is those who seek to be revisionist towards history.
Paddy Ashdown

Bosnian Serbs are willing to accept that atrocities were committed during the war but use explanations, excuses and diversions. The crimes, they say, were purely the actions of a psychopath such as Milan Lukic.

Recognising that genocide took place in Republika Sprska – that ethnically cleansed enclave hacked off from Bosnia, which is pushing for annexation with Serbia – would mean acknowledging that their state existed as a result of mass murder.

Paddy Ashdown served as international community’s high representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina from 2002 to 2006 and was highly praised for his proactive efforts to bring Bosnian Serb war criminals to justice and strengthen the central state institutions.

Paddy Ashdown

Paddy Ashdown, international community’s high representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina 2002-06IBT

He is highly critical of the secessionist policies of Republika Srpska and maintains that there was a positive verdict on the genocide charges.

In an interview with IBTimes UK, he says: “I know that the thing that prevents peace from being stabilised is those who seek to be revisionist towards history, to pretend that Srebrenica never happened. If you cannot come to terms with your past, you cannot build your future.”

Visegrad may prove to be the exception.