Tensions Flare as Bosnian Serb Accuses Fellow Ex-Fighters of Massacre

28. January 2020.17:48
Former Bosnian Serb fighter Mico Jovicic became the first witness to testify that five fellow Serb ex-fighters were involved in the kidnapping and killing of 20 passengers from a train at Strpci in Bosnia in 1993. Mico Jovicic, a wartime volunteer fighter for Bosnian Serb forces, told Belgrade Higher Court that all five defendants on trial for the kidnapping and killing of 20 passengers from a train at Strpci station in Bosnia and Herzegovina were at the crime scenes when the offences were committed.

This post is also available in: Bosnian

The testimony on Monday and Tuesday from Jovicic, who is currently serving a five-year jail sentence after pleading guilty to the same crime in Bosnia and Herzegovina, sparked anger from the defendants and disputes flared in the courtroom.

Jovicic named defendants Gojko Lukic, Dusko and Gojko Vasiljevic, Jovan Lipovac and Dragana Djekic as being present when the crimes were committed. Apart from Lipovac, who was a Bosnian Serb Army soldier, they were all members of the Avengers paramilitary unit.

According to the indictment, on February 27, 1993, a group of fighters came to the train station at Strpci, near the Bosnia-Serbia border, and forced the train dispatcher to stop a train from Belgrade that was passing by on its way to Montenegro.

Some of them entered the carriages, started identifying passengers by their identity documents, and took 20 non-Serbs off the train. All of them were subsequently killed.

Jovicic told the court how he and his co-fighter Nebojsa Ranisavljevic were ordered by Avengers leader Milan Lukic and fellow fighter Boban Indjic to go to Stprci station. Jovicic said he did not go into the train but put seized passengers into a truck.

The truck took the passengers to a primary school in Prelovo. Jovicic said he stayed in front of the school to smoke a cigarette but went in when he heard screams.

In the school gym, he said he saw Milan Lukic beating one civilian, while the other passengers were lined up and hit with a rifle butt if they said anything.

“I saw that people were tied up, some with wire and some with rope. Some were half naked, some were wearing vests, and most of them were barefoot. Someone was asking for a blanket and someone from the mass of soldiers said: ‘Where you are going, you will not need a blanket,’” Jovicic testified.

He said that truck then took the passengers to a burned-out house in the village of Musici, where Milan Lukic and Boban Indjic killed them.

Milan Lukic, the leader of the Avengers, was sentenced to life imprisonment in December 2014 by the Hague Tribunal for wartime crimes, but not for the Strpci massacre. The Bosnian prosecutor’s office indicted him for Strpci in December 2019.

Boban Indjic is one of the defendants in an ongoing trial in Bosnia for the Strpci crimes.

The trial hearings in Belgrade on Monday and Tuesday were marred by flare-ups between the prosecutor and defence lawyers, as well as between lawyers, defendants and the witness.

When Dusko Vasiljevic’s lawyer asked Jovicic to point out the defendant, Vasiljevic jumped from his seat, moved towards the witness and said: “Do not lie!” Court security guards prevented the incident from escalating further.

All the defendants insisted that they were not present at the crime scene, accusing Jovicic of lying and yelling that he should be ashamed of himself.

This post is also available in: Bosnian