A commemoration was held in Sarajevo to mark the anniversary of the shelling of the Markale marketplace in February 1994, when 68 people were killed and 142 wounded.
Families of victims, Bosnian politicians and ordinary Sarajevans gathered to lay flowers and pay tributes on Wednesday at the site of the Markale market shelling on the 26th anniversary of the deadly attack during the siege of Sarajevo by Bosnian Serb forces.
Sead Pesto, who provided help for people who were wounded by the blast, said that it was one of the most difficult days in his life.
“I was in town that day and I heard a shell being fired from the surrounding hills. After a minute or two, screams could be heard, and I arrived to the Markale market and I was transfixed by the horrific scene,” Pesto told BIRN.
“At one point, I wanted to lift a [wounded] man up onto a truck. His torso stayed in my hands and his legs fell over on the other side. The man had literally been cut in half,” he recalled.
The wartime commander of the Bosnian Serb Army’s Sarajevo-Romanija Corps, Stanislav Galic, was jailed for life by the Hague Tribunal for terrorising the population of Sarajevo during the siege of the city. His successor as commander of the Sarajevo-Romanija Corps, Dragomir Milosevic, was jailed for 29 years.
Former Bosnian Serb political leader Radovan Karadzic was also convicted of terrorising the population of Sarajevo through a long-running campaign of shelling and sniper fire during the siege. Karadzic was jailed for life for these and other crimes.
However some witnesses at the trials of Karadzic and other Bosnian Serb war crimes defendants claimed that Markale was not shelled from Bosnian Serb Army positions, alleging that the attack was staged to attract sympathy from the international community.
Senida Karovic, president of the Union of Civilian War Victims of Sarajevo Canton, said that because court verdicts like the one in the Karadzic case are still being questioned, “the truth must be spoken every day”.
“We have to talk about it every day because of future generations, generations to come, because of history in the long run,” Karovic said, adding that the questioning of court-determined facts is particularly difficult for the survivors who witnessed what happened.
“When we hear that war criminals’ court verdicts are being reassessed, it is terrible, people simply cannot accept that it is in someone’s interest is to deny what happened,” he added.
Forty-three more people were killed and 84 injured in a second attack on the Markale market by Bosnian Serb forces in August 1995.