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Families of members of the Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina, ABiH, who were last seen alive in the “Vranica” building in Mostar are disappointed that no one has been successfully tried for the murder of their loved ones 18 years after they went missing.
Although 18 years have passed since 13 members of the ABiH were captured in the Command of the Fourth Corps of the Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina, also known as “Vranica”, Bosnian judicial institutions have still not pronounced any verdicts for the incident.
Families of the victims say that they have “lost confidence” in the prosecution and courts in Bosnia and Herzegovina, adding that they do not believe they will ever see “justice fulfilled”.
The Cantonal Prosecution in Mostar has charged Zeljko Dzidic, Mato Anicic, Ivan Skutor and Erhad Poznic, former members of the Croatian Defence Council, HVO, with the murder of the Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina members who were in the “Vranica” building in the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, Mostar in May 1993.
Thus far, the Cantonal Court in Mostar has rendered three verdicts of release in the case, in 2001, 2004 and 2008, but the Supreme Court of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina has revoked all of them and ordered retrials.
When it revoked the third verdict of release in the “Vranica” case in 2008, the Supreme Court referred the case back to the Cantonal Court in Mostar, but it also ordered a change of the Trial Chamber which had conducted the previous trials.
Nevertheless, it is still not clear when the trial will begin. BIRN- Justice Report was told by sources in the Cantonal Court in Mostar that the proceedings will begin by the end of the year, adding that additional information about the case itself would also be available soon.
However, the families of the persons, who went missing in “Vranica” are upset because the case has lasted so long. They consider that “nothing will change in the fourth attempt to hold a trial”.
Azra Penava, a representative of the group of families, whose husband Fahro Penava was among the 13 murdered members of the ABiH, says that she has totally lost her hope in justice because of the way in which indictees Dzidic and Anicic and the Mostar Court and Prosecution behave.
“I do not believe that anything will change. I do not think they want to reveal the truth, but they do whatever they can to present witnesses’ statements in a different way. Nothing is going to change. The Court President and judges will not be replaced. They will not work against themselves,” Penava said, adding that this was the stance of the families of the Vranica victims.
Omer Cehic, whose son Senad was among the ABiH members who were captured in “Vranica”, shares her opinion.
“As far as the trials are concerned, we have a situation in which, as an old proverb says, ‘prosecutors and judges are like-minded’. We do not need to come to the court at all, because all they do is in the interest of the indictees.
“We complained to the Supreme Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina, asking it to transfer the case to Sarajevo and hold the trial there. They rejected our proposal, referring the case back to the Cantonal Court in Mostar,” Cehic explaing.
Cehic said that he last saw his son in “Vranica” on May 10, 1993.
After HVO had attacked “Vranica”, Cehic explained, he told his son: “Do not think about what will happen to me. Save yourselves…”.
After he was arrested on May 10, 1993, Cehic was held in various detention camps in Herzegovina for one year. Cehic said that when he left the detention camp, he started to search for his son, whose body was found in the vicinity of Mostar in 2007.
Zejna Colic’s brother Dzevad Colic was among the 13 ABiH members who were taken away from “Vranica”. Zejna says that, for years she had hoped that her brother was still alive, but his body was then found among ten persons taken from “Vranica”, whose bodies were identified in a grave.
The remains of 16 members of the Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina were found at Rimski bunar locality, near Mostar in May 2007. Following an identification process, it was determined that the following ten persons from “Vranica” were among them: Alija Camo, Senad Cehic, Dzevad Colic, Mimo Grizovic, Vahidin Hasic, Dzevad Husic, Zlatko Mehic, Nenad Milojevic, Fahir Penava and Nazif Sarancic.
The search for the three remaining members of the Fourth Corps Command with the Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina – Hasan Balic, Sefko Pobric and Fedza Huskovic, continues.
In another case involving crimes committed against Bosniaks and Mostart, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia is still due to pronounce a verdict against Jadranko Prlic, Bruno Stojic, Slobodan Praljak, Milivoje Petkovic, Valentin Coric and Berislav Pusic, former leaders of the Croatian Republic of Herceg-Bosna and HVO, for crimes committed against Bosniaks in Mostar in 1993 and 1994.
This article is made possible by the support of the American People through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID.) The contents of this article are the sole responsibility of Balkan investigative reporting network (BIRN) and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.