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29 February 2016
News

Witnesses Describe Disappearance of Loved Ones from Strpci Train Station

Dzana Brkanic BIRN BiH Sarajevo

A state prosecution witness testifying at the trial of ten former Bosnian Serb soldiers, said he spoke to Bosnian Serb paramilitary commander Milan Lukic in an attempt to find his nephew. The nephew of the witness had been kidnapped from a train station in Strpci, Rudo, in February 1993.

The Hague Tribunal sentenced Milan Lukic to life imprisonment for war crimes in the Visegrad area.

The state prosecution has charged Luka Dragicevic, Boban Indjic, Obrad Poluga, Novak Poluga, Dragan Sekaric, Oliver Krsmanovic, Petko Indjic, Radojica Ristic, Vuk Ratkovic and Mico Jovicic with kidnapping 20 civilians from a train in Strpci on February 27, 1993. The civilians were then killed in the Visegrad area.

According to the charges, Dragicevic was the commander of the Second Podrinjska Light Infantry Brigade with the Bosnian Serb Army. Boban Indjic was the commander of the Interventions Company of that brigade. The other defendants were members of the Interventions Company or the First Company with the First Battalion of the Second Podrinjska Light Infantry Brigade.

State prosecution witness Djordje Vujovic said a friend informed him about the kidnapping of passengers from a train at the Strpci railway station on February 27, 1993. He said his underage nephew, Senad Djecevic, was among those passengers. He said he went to Visegrad right after hearing about the kidnapping. He said he arranged a meeting with Milan Lukic, because he heard he had something to do with the kidnapping.

“I spoke to Milan Lukic. Their headquarters were in a former café next to the bridge...He denied having anything to do with it, saying it had been done by the Garavi Sokak [another paramilitary unit],’” Vujovic said.

He said a man named Oliver, who travelled by truck, was mentioned during his stay at the headquarters.

Responding to a question from Oliver Krsmanovic’s defense, Vujovic said he hadn’t mentioned a man named Oliver in his previous statements, because nobody asked him about that person.

Vujovic said he didn’t find out anything about his nephew on that occasion or later on. He said he is still searching for him.

State prosecution witness Sahret Babacic also said he had never found his brother Ismet. He said a neighbor told him he had been taken off the train as well.

State prosecution witness Ifeta Topuzovic said her husband, Dzafer, who was taken off the train in February 1993, had never been found either.

State prosecution witness Almir Zekovic said he was still searching for his father, Fevzija, who had been taken off the train in Strpci while traveling back from a business meeting in Belgrade. He said the police and former authorities in Belgrade had never given him any information about the fate of his father and the other passengers.

Izudin Hanic, the fifth witness to testify at this hearing, said he had never found his brother Muhedin.

State prosecution witness Hadija Mujevic, who was in the train on February 27, 1993, said soldiers entered the train at the Strpci station and checked the personal identification cards of male passengers.

“I saw them take people away and load them onto a truck. I saw a man in a postal or maybe railway uniform staggering and soldiers hitting him with rifle butts and escorting him to the truck,” Mujevic said.

She said that other train passengers informed her that Bosniak passengers were being taken off the train.

“Some said, ‘Leave those men alone,’ while others said, ‘Take the Balijas,’” Mujevic said.

The trial will continue on March 11.


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