Sarajevo police have granted permission to a group from Republika Srpska to mark 18 years since an incident involving an attack on a convoy of the Yugoslav People's Army in Dobrovoljacka Street, while the city's mayor has protested the planned gathering.
The request was filed by the Council for Nurturing the Traditions of Liberation Wars of Republika Srpska. It is the first time ever since the end of the war that May 3 will be marked in this way in Sarajevo.
Bosnian news agency Fena reports, quoting police sources, that participants in the scheduled event announced their intention to lay flowers and light candles in Dobrovoljacka street. Some 300 people are expected to attend the event.
According to some reports, the prime minister of Republika Srpska, Milorad Dodik, may come as well.
Alija Behmen, mayor of Sarajevo, sent an urgent request to the Sarajevo Cantonal Interior Ministry on April 28 asking the Ministry to ban the event over concerns that the gathering could cause violence.
He also said that an ICTY investigation has established that war crimes were not committed in Dobrovoljacka Street in May 1992.
On May 3, 1992, a column of the Yugoslav People’s Army, JNA, was attacked in Dobrovoljacka Street as it was leaving Sarajevo. According to existing reports, a number of JNA soldiers were killed and wounded. The exact number of injured and killed and the precise circumstances of the incident have still not been established.
The prosecution in Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina are currently leading two parallel investigations into this incident. In both cases, one of the suspects is Ejup Ganic, a wartime member of the Bosnian Presidency, who was arrested in the UK at the request of Serbia on March 1.
Ganic is currently fighting his extradition to Serbia.
Sarajevo's current mayor, a member of the Social Democratic Party, told reporters that to agree to this gathering “would be what its organiser, which is the government of the Serb Republic, want: to negotiate about the facts again. There can be no negotiations about facts.”
Behmen cited the regulations of the cantonal law on public gatherings by which a public gathering can be prohibited if it “calls for and incites an armed conflict or use of violence, national, religious or other forms of hatred, that is, when there is a clear danger of large scale violence and breakdown of public order and peace.”
According to him, the announced event falls into this category.
Meanwhile, the president of the state court, Meddzida Kreso, was quoted in daily Dnevni Avaz, as saying that she does not see any reason for the gathering should be stopped.
“It is not up to the judiciary to get involved in this, or any other event where politics is involved. But, as a human being, I do consider that families of all the victims, where ever they are, should have the possibility to pay respect to those who were killed, if it is done in a peaceful and dignified way,” she said.
The international community's Office of the High Representative commented that the institution in charge should make decision on whether the event should take place or not.
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