Štrpci – 21 years without justice and recognition

Štrpci – 21 years without justice and recognition

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On Thursday, 27th February 2014, it will be twenty-one years since the crime at Štrpci (BiH), where members of the Army of the Republic of Srpska (VRS) abducted 19 Bosniak civilians – citizens of the then Federal Republic of Yugoslavia – from a train travelling from Belgrade to Bar and subsequently killed them. Women in Black, the Youth Initiative for Human Rights and the Humanitarian Law Center (HLC) reiterate that the responsibility for this crime lies with the institutions of the Republic of Serbia and condemn their present-day shameful treatment of victims of this crime by refusing to recognize them as civilian victims of war.

In the trial of Nebojša Ranisavljevid, conducted before the Higher Court in Bijelo Polje, it was established that a group of soldiers of the VRS Višegrad Brigade, led by Milan Lukid, stopped the train at Štrpci in the afternoon of 27th February 1993. After checking the passengers’ identification documents, the soldiers took 18 Muslims and one Croat off the train and drove them to the village of Prelovo. In the gym of a local elementary school, they searched, robbed and beat the abducted men. After this, they tied their hands with wire, loaded them onto a truck and took them to a village near Višegrad, where Milan Lukid and Boban Inđid killed them.

Besides Lukid, Inđid and Ranisavljevid, the names of some other persons who were at the Štrpci train station on this day also surfaced during the proceedings. However, none of them have been prosecuted. The ICTY sentenced Milan Lukid to life imprisonment for crimes committed against Višegrad Muslims, but not for the crime at Štrpci.

During the trial of Ranisavljevid, it was also established that the kidnapping was planned one month beforehand and that the Belgrade Railroad Company repeatedly warned the Yugoslav Army and the Serbian Ministry of the Interior of the preparations being made for the abduction. None of the authorities did anything to prevent it and thus save the lives of these citizens of Serbia.

The victims of this crime were: Halil Zupčevid, Senad Đečevid, Esad Kapetanovid, Iljaz Ličina, Fehim Bakija, Rifat Husovid, Ismet Babačid, Šedo Softid, Adem Alomerovid, Rasim Dorid, Fikret Memovid, Fevzija Zekovid, Džafer Topuzovid, Muhedin Hanid, Safet Preljevid, Nijazim Kajevid, Zvjezdan Zuličid, Jusuf Rastoder and Tomo Buzov. The bodies of only three abductees have been found so far: Halil Zupčevid’s body was found in 2009 in the Perudac Lake, and the bodies of Rasim Dorid and Jusuf Rastoder were found in 2010 in the same lake.

Today, twenty-one years later, the families of the people killed at Štrpci, as well as the families of the Sjeverin crime victims, are still not recognized as civilian victims of war. Because the crime took place on the territory of BiH, the Serbian Ministry of Labor, Employment and Social Policy denies these families the rights envisaged by the Law on Disabled Civilian Victims of War. Women in Black, the Youth Initiative for Human Rights and the HLC call upon the competent authorities to stop depriving family members of the victims of the most severe crimes of their rights, and to amend the Law on Disabled Civilian Victims of War so as to offer at least partial satisfaction to families of the victims of the crimes for which Serbian institutions were unquestionably responsible.

Women in Black, the Youth Initiative for Human Rights and the HLC will commemorate the 21st anniversary of the crime at Štrpci outside the Belgrade Main Train Station entrance on Thursday, 27th February 2014, at 15:48h.