News 30 Oct 14

Bosnian Serbs to Remove Controversial Sarajevo Cross

The makeshift cross installed above the Bosnian capital to commemorate Serb victims of the 1990s conflict will be removed after it sparked angry reactions from Bosniak war victims.

Denis Dzidic
The cross, installed last month, will be taken down.

Malko Koroman, advisor to the municipality president of Eastern Old Town near Sarajevo, said on Wednesday that the controversial makeshift cross built in Zlatiste on Mount Trebovic above the capital would be removed because there was no legal permit for it.

“It is known that the thing was built without official approval, so everything is going in this direction [towards removal]. Also, it is not a cross, but two light poles,” Koroman told local media.

He could not say exactly when the cross would be removed, however.

It was erected on the hill above Sarajevo under cover of darkness in late September to commemorate Serb war victims in the city - a move that angered Bosniak victims, who said it was unacceptable because it was placed in an area where Serb forces were positioned when they besieged the Bosnian capital.

In the following weeks, local police also stopped several attempts to remove the cross, during which it was damaged.

Fikret Grabovica, the president of the Association of Families of Children Killed During the Siege of Sarajevo, told BIRN that he was pleased with the decision because “the cross was a cause of daily pain for victims’ families”.

“It caused us a lot of pain, but also, I would stress that this is a good decision for future generations. It is about time that young people are no longer filled with hatred by others, so that they can build a good future,” Grabovica told BIRN.

The president of the Bosnian Serb Association of Prison Camp Inmates, Branislav Dukic, said that the erection of the temporary cross was a result of frustration after years of waiting for Serb victims in Sarajevo to be commemorated.

Dukic told BIRN that he will continue to promote the idea of building a memorial on Zlatiste, which is under the control of Bosnia’s Serb-led entity, Republika Srpska.

“I will not back down from the idea of a cross memorial, and if we can’t write the names of each victim, we will at least name all the [detention] camps in Sarajevo, and there were 126 of them,” said Dukic.

Several Bosnian Serbs have been convicted by the Hague Tribunal of conducting a campaign of terror against the population of Sarajevo during the 1992-95 conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina, but local courts have also handed down several sentences for crimes by Bosnian Army forces against Serb civilians.

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