Bosnian Serb Book Disputes Tuzla Massacre

28. June 2017.12:02
Author Ilija Brankovic launched a new book in which he tries to dispute the Bosnian Serb Army’s responsibility for the deadly shelling of the Bosnian town of Tuzla in May 1995. Ilija Brankovic’s book, ‘Undercover Operation at Tuzla’s Kapija Square’, was launched on Tuesday evening in Banja Luka, the main town in Bosnia’s Serb-dominated entity Republika Srpska.

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The book disputes Bosnian Serb forces’ responsibility for the shelling of Kapija Square in central Tuzla in May 1995, an attack in which 71 people died.

The publisher of the book is the Republic Centre for War Research, War Crimes and the Search for Missing Civilians of Republika Srpska, whose director claimed that new research, included in the book, shows that the shell was not fired from Bosnian Serb positions.

Director Nevenko Vranjes argued that the Republic Centre and the defence team for wartime Bosnian Serb general Novak Djukic, with the support from the Serbian Defence Ministry, had investigated and reconstructed the event at a military training ground in Nikinci in Serbia.

“In the presence of judicial experts, representatives of the Serbian Army, the Ministry of Justice of Republika Srpska and representatives of the media, a demonstration of this event was shown, which refuted the thesis that a grenade had been fired from the Republika Srpska Army’s position,” Vranjes said at the book launch.

Ballistics expert Mile Poparic also said that it had been proved in Nikinci that the shell that hit Tuzla was not fired from Serb positions.

“We proved that no shell was fired, that mine-explosive devices were planted,” he said.

Seventy-one civilians died and more than 130 were injured in the attack in 1995.

The Bosnian state court found Bosnian Serb general Novak Djukic guilty as the commander of the Bosnian Serb Army’s Ozren Tactical Group of ordering an artillery squad to stage the attack and sentenced him to 25 years in prison.

In February 2014, Djukic was released from prison after the Constitutional Court ruled that the law had been incorrectly applied in his trial and quashed the verdict.

In June 2014, the state court handed down a new ruling cutting his sentence to 20 years, but a few days later, his lawyer informed the court that Djukic had gone to Serbia for medical treatment.

A warrant for Djukic was issued in October 2014, because he didn’t turn up to start serving his sentence, after Serbia was asked to take over the execution of the verdict.

But since then, the Higher Court in Belgrade has postponed hearings in the Djukic case several times.

The Higher Court said the reason for the delays was because the Bosnian court has not sent the necessary case documents which were requested by Djukic’s defence, as well as because of his health.

The Bosnian court argues however that the court in Belgrade does not need to confirm the Bosnian verdict, but just to take over the enforcement of Djukic’s sentence.

Serbia signed an agreement with Bosnia in 2010, which allows Sarajevo and Belgrade to ask each other to take over the enforcement of sentences.

Serbia’s behaviour in the Djukic case has been criticised by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and its chief prosecutor, Serge Brammertz.

After the reconstruction in Nikinci in Serbia in May this year, the Bosnian court refused to restart the proceedings against Djukic, as his defence had requested.

Goran Obradović

This post is also available in: Bosnian