News 27 Feb 17

Serbian Activists Commemorate Strpci Train Massacre

Rights activists marked the 24th anniversary of the abduction and subsequent massacre of 20 passengers from a train in Strpci in Bosnia, calling on the Serbian authorities to finally prosecute those responsible.

Maja Zivanovic

Activists commemorate the Strpci vctims in Belgrade. Photo: Twitter/Youth Initiative for Human Rights.

Activists from rights groups Women in Black, the Humanitarian Law Centre and the Youth Initiative for Human Rights on Monday commemorated the 24th anniversary of the Strpci train abductions in 1993 by holding up placards with the names of the victims in front of Belgrade railway station.

The action began symbolically at 3,48pm, when the train that was travelling from Belgrade to Bar was stopped at Strpci station, near the Serbian border, 24 years ago.

“What we want with this action is to remind young people and the entire public what happened during the 1990s,” Marko Milosavljevic from the Youth Initiative for Human Rights told BIRN.

Only one person has so far been convicted of the killings of the passengers.

Ten former Bosnian Serb fighters are on trial in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and a further five were arrested in Serbia in December 2014 - but the indictment has not yet been confirmed.

Milica Kostic from the Humanitarian Law Centre noted that although most of the victims were Bosniaks, they were also mainly Serbian citizens, but the Belgrade authorities have so far failed to bring their alleged killers to court.

“They [the Serbian authorities] perceive Serb victims only to be members of the Orthodox religion,” Kostic told BIRN.

At the commemorative event, the activists also distributed imitation train tickets to passers-by and explained the circumstances of the crime in Strpci.

The train tickets produced as part of the commemoration. Photo: Twitter/Youth Initiative for Human Rights

On February 27, 1993 a group of fighters led by Milan Lukic, the chief of the ‘Avengers’ paramilitary unit, ordered the local station manager in Strpci to halt an express from Belgrade which was heading to the Montenegrin coastal town of Bar.

The fighters then forced 20 of them to get off the train. Most were Bosniaks who lived in Serbia or Montenegro. There was also one Croat who was travelling to Montenegro to visit his son, and another young man who was never identified.

They were then taken by truck to a school in the village of Prelovo near Visegrad, where they were robbed and beaten. They were then taken onwards to the nearby village of Musici, where they were killed and their bodies thrown in the Drina River.

The remains of three of them have been found in Lake Perucac near Visegrad, while the other bodies are still missing.

Milan Lukic was sentenced by the Hague Tribunal to life imprisonment for wartime crimes in Visegrad, but not for the abductions in Strpci.

A court in Montenegro did however jail a former member of Lukic’s unit, Nebojsa Ranisavljevic, for 15 years over the Strpci case.

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