news 29 Jul 13

Bosnia Police Arrest Anti-Business Centre Protester

Dozens of policemen were deployed to arrest Zeljko Vulic, who has been involved a months-long campaign to stop a business centre being built in a park in Banja Luka.

Elvira M. Jukic

Vulic and his son were arrested on Friday after he tried to prevent construction workers from continuing to build the business centre, which has been the focus of protests in Banja Luka for several months.

Vulic was forced out of his car by police after he tried to use it to stop builders from working in an area where there is a path leading to his house.

Media in Banja Luka reported that dozens of policemen were involved in his arrest and that journalists were prevented from witnessing what happened to him when he was detained.

One policeman was reported to have been injured in a struggle that began when officers tried to get him out of the car, which was also damaged during the incident. Police later said three of their men were injured.

Vulic's property is located next to the Picin Park area where the company Grand Trade started to build the business centre despite protests by locals in Banja Luka who wanted to preserve the park as it was.

The arrested man’s mother, Slavica Vulic, claimed that Mile Radisic, the owner of the company that is constructing the building, was being given special treatment by the authorities.

“Who is that Radisic anyway? How come he is preventing us from having a path to our property? The authorities said they sold that path – is there anywhere you could find a path being sold?” she asked.

The city administration said that it offered the Vulic family an alternative path to their house but that they refused it.

It also said that it had nothing to do with the arrest, but added that all the necessary documents were in place for building work to continue on the land where the disputed path lies.

Meanwhile Milorad Dodik, the president of Bosnia’s Serb-led entity Republika Srpska, accused the Vulic family of being influenced by the opposition and said that the authorities should have acted earlier.

Dodik said that the police operation was legitimate and that no one even touched Vulic's property because the construction work was carried out on the path nearby.

He said he regretted that “the Vulic family was manipulated”.

But the opposition Serb Democratic Party said that Republika Srpska’s interior minister Radislav Jovicic should resign for allowing such “shocking scenes of police violence in Banja Luka”.

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