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7 December 2015
News

Former Railway Workers Describe Abduction of Civilian Passengers from Strpci Station

Dzana Brkanic BIRN BiH Sarajevo

Three former railway workers testified at the trial of ten former members of the Bosnian Serb Army charged with murdering civilians abducted from a train in Strpci in February 1993. The workers confirmed that they saw soldiers escorting passengers off the train.

Luka Dragicevic, Boban and Petko Indjic, Obrad Poluga, Novak Poluga, Dragan Sekaric, Oliver Krsmanovic, Radojica Ristic, Vuk Ratkovic and Mica Jovicic have been charged with kidnapping 20 passengers from a train travelling from Belgrade to Bar on February 27, 1993. The victims were allegedly abducted from the railway station in Strpci and killed later in Visegrad.

According to the charges, Luka Dragicevic was the commander of the Second Podrinjska Light Infantry Brigade in Visegrad, Boban Indjic was the commander of the Interventions Company of the same brigade, while the other defendants were members of the Interventions Company or the First Company of the First Battalion of the Second Podrinjska Light Infantry Brigade.

Zeljko Radojicic, a conductor of the 671 express train between Belgrade and Bar, testified at today’s hearing. Radojicic said he began his shift on February 27, 1993. He said nothing out of the ordinary occurred on the route until they arrived at the Strpci railway station.

“The train usually didn’t stop at that station. As we were approaching the station, the traffic lights signalled that we weren’t allowed to pass. I stopped the train next to train dispatcher Icagic, whose first name I don’t remember. He told he didn’t know why we were stopped. He looked as if something was wrong,” Radojicic said.

Radojicic said he noticed a few soldiers as the train approached the station. He said when he tried to leave his post, an armed man in uniform stopped him.

“While I was inside the train, I could only see some of what was happening. Soldiers were standing five or six meters away from each other. They escorted civilians, passengers off the train...I noticed a soldier pushing a young man with the butt of his rifle, so he could pass by,” Radojicic said.

According to Radojicic, two soldiers approached him and asked for his colleagues’ ID cards. Radojicic said the train was stopped in Strpci for 25 minutes.

“I found out that our colleague Fikret Memic was taken away as well. He was a train dispatcher from Prijepolje,” Radojicic said.

Vladan Tucovic, an assistant conductor, also testified at today’s hearing. Tucovic said when they stopped in Strpci, the dispatcher told him that he was forced to stop the train.

Tucovic said he saw several uniformed and armed men at the Strpci railway station. He said they were wearing masks on their heads, but their faces weren’t covered. He said one of them wore a fur hat.

“I saw civilian passengers, both young and old, passing by. They were walking calmly without any complaints. The dispatcher said, ‘Don't take him. He’s my colleague,’ but a soldier told him, ‘Shut up or we’ll take you as well,’” Tucovic said.

Tucovic said he saw a man with dark skin among the train passengers. He said he didn’t look like he was from the region.

Ticket inspector Marko Plasinic was the third witness to testify at today’s hearing. He said he got off the train in Strpci to drink some water, and saw armed soldiers at the station.

“As I was getting off the train, I saw a truck with an awning and a civilian being escorted off the train,” Plasinic said.

He said when he returned to the train, he noticed that three passengers from his compartment were missing. The passengers included a boy from Bar, his colleague Fikret Memovic and a man named Sehic from Bijelo Polje.

The trial will continue on December 18.

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