News 26 Aug 09

Lauded Bosnian War-Time Commander Buried

The remains of a Bosnian war-time commander - considered a hero by many - which were dumped in a mass grave in the summer of 1995, were buried with full honours in Sarajevo on Wednesday.

Srecko Latal

During the 1992-95 war Colonel Avdo Palic was the commander of the defence of the Bosniak (Bosnian Muslim) enclave of Zepa.

He disappeared after holding a meeting with the commander of Bosnian Serb forces, General Ratko Mladic, in which he negotiated the surrender of Zepa and the peaceful withdrawal of Bosniak soldiers and civilians from the town.

Palic’s negotiations are believed to have prevented another massacre of Bosniaks. The fall of Zepa came less than three weeks after Bosnian Serb forces overran another eastern enclave, Srebrenica, killing 8,000 Bosniak men, children and elderly.

For 14 years Palic’s wife Esma pleaded and urged Bosnian Serb and international officials to help her find and bury her husband’s body - a quest that drew public attention in Bosnia and abroad.

Only last month, new DNA identification techniques showed that one of nine bodies exhumed from a mass grave near the eastern Bosnian town of Rogatica in 2001 was that of Palic.

Palic’s body was awaiting DNA analysis alongside 3,000 bags containing the mortal remains of people killed in eastern Bosnia during the war.

Palic was buried in front of the Alipasina mosque in the center of Sarajevo - a location reserved for the most prestigious Bosniak political and military figures - on Wednesday. Several hundred civilians and Bosniak political and religious leaders attended the ceremony.

After the final confirmation of the identification of her husband’s remains, Esma Palic has pledged to continue her campaign until her husband's killers are identified and prosecuted. 


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