News 03 May 17

Yugoslav Troops’ Deaths Marked Amid Sarajevo ‘Security’ Row

A commemoration of the 1992 killings of Yugoslav troops in Sarajevo was held outside the capital after Serb officials complained of inadequate security and refusals to allow them a permanent memorial.

Admir Muslimovic
BIRN
Sarajevo
The ceremony in Miljevici on Wednesday. Photo: BIRN.

The 25th anniversary of the killings of Yugoslav People’s Army troops on Dobrovoljacka Street in Sarajevo was commemorated on Wednesday with a ceremony in Miljevici in Eastern Sarajevo instead of in the capital itself as it has been in previous years.

Milenko Savanovic, the minister of labour, veterans’ affairs and disabled people’s protection in Bosnia’s Serb-dominated entity Republika Srpska, complained before the commemoration that the security situation in Sarajevo was “inadequate” after a municipal refuse worker put flowers and candles in a garbage container following last year’s memorial.

Savanovic also said on Wednesday that the Sarajevo authorities had not allowed Serbs to properly commemorate the Yugoslav People’s Army troops who were killed on Dobrovoljacka Street as they were pulling out of Sarajevo on May 3, 1992.

“Muslim forces and the Muslim authorities in the Sarajevo Canton have not allowed us to put up a memorial plaque with the names of all the killed soldiers. Besides that, they have not allowed our Orthodox priests to perform a Christian ceremony,” Savanovic said.

“When the conditions are met, we shall go back to marking the anniversary at that location,” he added.

Milomir Savcic, president of the Republika Srpska War Veterans’ Association, said that the killings on Dobrovoljacka Street were one of the most tragic events of the war.

Savcic also insisted that the way the soldiers died was being misrepresented and their memories disrespected.

“It is unbelievable to see people, who had the most sublime goal, to defend the constitution and integrity of their state, being treated in this manner,” he said.

“There are always two or even more versions of truth, but despite our wish to mark this date in accordance with Serbian customs and tradition, we are unable to do it today,” he added.

Nobody has been tried over the deaths as yet.

The Serbian authorities claim that over 40 Yugoslav soldiers and officers were killed and more than 70 wounded.

As a result of an ongoing investigation in Serbia, two suspects have been detained in recent years - former Bosnian presidency member Ejup Ganic was arrested in Britain and former Bosnian Army general Jovan Divjak in Austria.

But courts in Britain and Austria decided not to extradite them to Serbia, but to Bosnia and Herzegovina, where a parallel investigation into the Dobrovoljacka Street violence is ongoing.

Despite promises by Bosnian state prosecution officials, no indictment has been filed as yet, however.

Meanwhile the question of installing a memorial at the site of the soldiers’ deaths on Dobrovoljacka Street has long been a matter of dispute.

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