Missing Persons


26. February 2020.
Ahead of the anniversary of the abduction and killing of 20 passengers from a train in Strpci in Bosnia in 1993, one victim’s son said he hopes that the bodies of those who are still missing will be discovered.

Demir Licina, whose father Ilijaz was one of the passengers seized from a train by Bosnian Serb fighters in Strpci on February 27, 1993 and subsequently killed, told BIRN ahead of the anniversary of the crime that he hopes that the remains of all the missing victims will eventually be found.

Ilijaz Licina’s remains were discovered in Lake Perucac in eastern Bosnia in 2010, but the bodies of 16 others have yet to be discovered.

“I am friends with family members of other people kidnapped in Strpci, and when we speak to each other, I have the feeling that I’ve been given something that they haven’t. It’s as if I have some kind of advantage over them,” Demir Licina said.

He said that finding the remains of the missing victims would be “a bigger satisfaction for their families than seeing someone convicted after so many years”.

Ten former Bosnian Serb fighters are currently on trial for the Strpci crime in Sarajevo, and another five in Belgrade.

“Speaking as a family member, to be honest, a verdict of conviction would not represent any sort of satisfaction, seeing people who practically have one foot in the grave sentenced for something they did so many years ago,” said Licina.

But he added that he hopes that the ongoing court proceedings will reveal the truth about what happened and point to those who ordered the kidnappings and murders.

He also said that he hopes the proceedings will uncover the identity of one passenger who was abducted from the train and killed whose name and nationality have remained unknown. Eighteen of the murdered passengers were Bosniaks and one was a Croat.

After they were seized from the train, they were taken to a school building in Prelovo, where they were beaten, tortured, abused and robbed, then transported to the village of Musici, where they were killed and their bodies dumped in the River Drina.

Two former Bosnian Serb fighters have already been convicted of the Strpci crime – Nebojsa Ranisavljevic, who was sentenced to 15 years in prison in Montenegro, and Mico Jovicic, who received a five-year sentence after pleading guilty before the Bosnian state court.

In January this year, the Bosnian prosecution also charged the leader of the Avengers paramilitary unit, Milan Lukic, with planning and organising the Strpci abductions.

Lukic is currently serving a life sentence for war crimes in the eastern Bosnian town of Visegrad after being convicted by the Hague Tribunal in 2012.