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news 10 Mar 14

Bosnia Arrests Two for Sarajevo Protest 'Terrorism'

Two men have been detained for allegedly setting fire to official buildings amid violent clashes that broke out during mass protests in Sarajevo last month.

Elvira M. Jukic
BIRN
Sarajevo

Nihad Trnka and Salem Hatibovic were handed over to the prosecutor's office on Saturday after they were arrested for what police described as ‘terrorism related to the criminal act of attacking the constitutional order’ during the turmoil in the capital on February 7.

Trnka was arrested on suspicion that he entered the presidency and used petrol to set fire to the part of the building where the state archives were located.

Local media have reported that he has confessed, but his lawyer said that the offence should not be classified as terrorism.

Hatibovic was arrested for allegedly driving his car to the presidency to deliver petrol and Molotov cocktails which were used to set the building on fire.

But his lawyer Senad Bilic said that his client arrived at the scene after 5pm on February 7, after the building had been torched. He said that Hatibovic did not deliver Molotov cocktails but was just carrying several litres of brandy and a few beers in his car which the protesters took from him.

Other suspects are still wanted, police said.

Municipal and state institutions were torched in Sarajevo, Tuzla, Zenica and Mostar on February 7 at the peak of mass protests about poor living conditions that gripped the country.

In the capital, the presidency, the state archives, the cantonal government building, the central city municipality and two state ministries were burned by protesters who clashed with police. Hundreds were injured and dozens arrested.

The protests initially began in Tuzla in early February, led by workers from factories that went bankrupt or closed down after they were privatized, but quickly spread across the country, attracting thousands of Bosnians angered by poverty, unemployment, corruption and bad governance.

The protests have continued on a daily basis since then, but have attracted far fewer participants.

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Background

The ‘Bosnian Spring’ Starts With a Bang

The Bosnian protests are the result of years of corruption, economic decay and in-fighting among ethno-political elites, but it is far from certain that they can bring real change.