Belgrade Indicts Five Serbs for Strpci War Crime

Belgrade Indicts Five Serbs for Strpci War Crime

BalkanInsight_logoThe Belgrade prosecution indicted five former Bosnian Serb fighters for killing 20 passengers who were abducted from a train in Strpci in Bosnia 22 years ago.

The Serbian war crime prosecutor’s office on Tuesday issued indictments against Gojko Lukic, Ljubisa Vasiljevic, Dusko Vasiljevic, Jovan Lipovac and Dragana Djekic, all former members of the Bosnian Serb armed forces, for their involvement in the abductions and killings of the civilian victims on February 27, 1993.

“By issuing this indictment 22 years after the abduction of 20 non-Serb passengers from the train at Strpci station, the first step was made to determine the truth about this event and to achieving justice for the victims and their families,” the Serbian prosecution said in a statement.

A total of 15 suspects were detained in both Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina in a joint operation in December last year.

The Bosnian prosecution spokesperson Boris Grubesic told BIRN that the investigation into the ten suspects arrested in his country was now “in the final stages”.

“We are working on this investigation and I can reveal that an indictment will be issued very soon,” said Grubesic.

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.

During his trial it was proved that there was an advance plan for the abductions and that the Serbian Railway Company had informed the Serbian interior ministry and the Yugoslav Army about the possibility of seizing the passengers.