‘Mum, I’m wounded’
Another of Gorazde’s child victims was killed in an attack on the nearby village of Lozje (also known as Kokino Selo) on May 22, 1992. Eleven-year-old Advira Sahman was among more than 40 people who died.
On the day of the attack, Advira Sahman’s mother Izeta was trying to escape from Lozje together with around 100 neighbours.
“They were shooting from all directions,” Izeta Sahman recalled. “At one moment I covered Advira’s sister with my body. I looked down and saw Advira lying by my feet. I managed to touch her with my feet. I heard her say: ‘Mum, I’m wounded.’ Her left leg was riddled with bullets.
“I took my Advira and bound her leg with my headscarf, but the blood was still pouring. Advira kept saying: ‘Mum, give me some water, please.’ I did not have any water with me. Whenever I drink water, I think of her.”
Advira died in her mother’s arms, while Serb soldiers were driving them to a hospital. Afterwards, Izeta Sahman and her dead daughter were transported back to Lozje and she was detained in a house for the next three days. While she was there, she learned that her other daughter had been captured.
“Three days later, a Serb neighbour, a good man, suggested that we bury Advira in the garden near where the monument [to the victims of the attack] is today. I agreed. I was not afraid of anything anymore. All I wanted was to die,” Sahman said.
“The neighbour said I should flee that night as nobody would be around. So I fled.” Her other daughter was later released in a prisoner exchange, and eventually they managed to give 11-year-old Advira a proper burial.
Former Bosnian Serb Army soldier Dragan Sekaric was charged with involvement in the attack, but eventually acquitted. He is now serving a 17-year sentence for murder and rape in Visegrad.
No one has yet been convicted of the crimes in Lozje, although the state prosecution told BIRN that “the case is ongoing and we are working on it intensively”.
Initial witness statements and evidence about the crime in Lozje in 1992 were collected by the now-defunct Bosnian intelligence service, the Agency for Investigation and Documentation, and by the local cantonal prosecution collected, according to Mirsad Bilajac, chief cantonal prosecutor of the Bosnian-Podrinje Canton Gorazde, who led the investigation at the time.
According to documents obtained by Dzananovic, the attack plan was approved by Brane Petkovic, commander of the Serb-led Territorial Defence force’s headquarters in Srpsko Gorazde.
Bilajac said he investigated Petkovic, but the case was then transferred upwards to the state prosecution.
“The injured parties must be assertive and demand answers from the prosecution of Bosnia and Herzegovina,” Bilajac urged.
“Much depends on the prosecutor’s talent to gather evidence. Serbs defend their own people, Bosniaks and Croats defend theirs. It would be easier to identify criminals if we were all just citizens. People are still afraid to testify. That is my opinion,” he added.
BIRN was unable to locate Petkovic to ask him for a comment.
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