Strpci Train Massacre Trial Opens in Bosnia
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The ten former Serb fighters – Luka Dragicevic, Boban Indjic, Obrad and Novak Poluga, Dragan Sekaric, Oliver Krsmanovic, Petko Indjic, Radojica Ristic, Vuk Ratkovic and Mico Jovicic – went on trial at the Bosnian state court on Monday.
According to the charges, Dragicevic was ordered by the Visegrad Bosnian Serb Army Tactical Group to gather together a group of 25 soldiers. Dragicevic then told Indjic to collect the soldiers, among whom were the defendants and Milan Lukic, who was sentenced in 2012 to life in prison for crimes in Visegrad by the Hague Tribunal.
On February 27, 1993, the group led by Indjic and Lukic went to the train station in Strpci in eastern Bosnia with a military truck, where they stopped train number 671 which was travelling from Belgrade to Bar in Montenegro.
Indjic, Lukic and the other defendants took about 20 civilian passengers from the train, among whom were 18 Bosniaks, one Croat and another person described as ‘Arabic’.
The defendants are charged with then taking the passengers to the Zelimir Djuric Zeljo school in Prelovo near Visegrad, where they were tortured, abused and robbed, and afterwards taken to the nearby village of Musici.
According to the indictment, Indjic and Lukic killed 18 of the civilians, while two more were killed nearby while attempting to flee.
A day later, the indictment claims, the bodies were moved and thrown into the Drina River. The remains of only four of the victims were ever found.
According to the charges, Dragicevic was commander of the Second Podrinje Light Infantry Brigade of the Bosnian Serb Army from Visegrad and Indjic was the commander of the Interventions Unit of the brigade, while the other defendants were all members of the Interventions Unit or the brigade itself.
The defendants were arrested in a joint operation by the Bosnian state prosecution and the Serbian war crimes prosecution in December last year.
Five more suspects were arrested in Serbia and were indicted at the beginning of March.
The only person to have been convicted of the Strpci killings crime so far is Nebojsa Ranisavljevic, who was sentenced to 15 years in prison by a court in Montenegro.
Bosnian prosecutor Dzermin Pasic said on Monday that he plans to call about 50 witnesses and five experts. He said that 43 pieces of material evidence will also be presented during the trial.
“This will prove to the chamber that the defendants committed the crime in the indictment,” said Pasic.
The defence teams said they will present their opening arguments after the Bosnian prosecution finishes its evidence hearing.
The first prosecution witness will testify on October 23.