Today we mark the 28th anniversary of the crime in Strpci, when members of the Army of Republika Srpska (VRS) took out and killed 20 passengers, non-Serb civilians, at a train station in Strpci (BiH) from a train running on the Belgrade-Bar route.Youth Initiative for Human Rights in Serbia (YIHR Serbia) and Youth Initiative for Human Rights in Montenegro (YIHR CG) recall the responsibility of state institutions of Serbia and Montenegro for this planned war crime against the citizens of FRY and demand that full responsibility be established – not only of the perpetrators but also of the originators of this crime, as well as to speed up investigations and court proceedings in both countries. Also, the families of victims in Serbia continue to be discriminated in terms of the status of civilian victims of war, while in Montenegro no one but Nebojša Ranisavljević has been prosecuted.
We remind that Velija Murić, a lawyer for the families of persons who were abducted from the train 671 on the Belgrade-Bar line in Štrpci on February 27, 1993 and immediately executed, filed criminal charges against 14 senior former officials on May 20, 2002 and forwarded them to the federal State Prosecutor, Public Prosecutor’s Office of Serbia, Senior Prosecutor in Bijelo Polje and State Prosecutor of Montenegro. Most of these officials from Serbia and Montenegro have passed away since then, but judicial authorities of Serbia and Montenegro remain obliged to investigate and shed light on the abduction in Štrpci.
Lawyer Murić filed criminal charges against Života Panić, former Chief of the General Staff of the Yugoslav Army, Milan Panić, former Prime Minister and Acting Minister of Defense, Dobrica Ćosić, former President of FRY, Slobodan Milošević, former President of Serbia, Marko Negovanović, former Minister of Defense of Serbia, Dragoljub Ojdanić, former Commander of the Užice Corps, Jovica Stanišić, former Chief of Serbian State Security Service, Branislav Kuzmanović, former Assistant Minister of Defense of Serbia, Dušan Lončar, former Deputy Commander of the Užice Corps, Luka Dragićević, former Commander of the Višegrad Brigade, Damjan Mitrašinović, former Commander of VRS Goražde Brigade. The list also includes the former Chief of Užice Secretariat of Internal Affairs, Boško Petrić, former Commander of Uzice region police, Djordje Kerić, Former Head of the Traffic Department of the Belgrade Railway, Josip Ujčić, as well as the former Chief of Security of the Užice Corps.
The application states that the abduction in Štrpci was planned with their knowledge, “because they had strictly confidential information about the abduction and did not take any action within their authority to prevent the abduction of civilians, citizens of the FRY, carried out by members of the Republika Srpska Army, which was under the command of Yugoslav Army officers at that time.”
To date, the remains of only four victims have been found. Halil Zupčević’s body was found at the end of 2009 on the shores of Lake Perućac, and the remains of Rasim Ćorić, Jusuf Rastoder and Ilijaz Ličina were found in the same lake in 2010, while other victims are still being searched for.
So far, only Nebojša Ranisavljević and Mićo Jovičić have been convicted of this crime. Nebojša Ranisavljevicć was sentenced by the High Court in Bijelo Polje (Montenegro) in 2003 to 15 years in prison. Mićo Jovičić, against whom proceedings were conducted before the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to five years in prison.
Proceedings before the courts in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia are currently underway for the crime in Štrpci. The trial of ten indictees is under way before the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina, including Luka Dragićević, commander of the VRS Višegrad Brigade, and Boban Indjić, commander of the Višegrad Brigade Intervention Troop. In mid-December 2019, the Prosecutor’s Office of Bosnia and Herzegovina filed an indictment against Milan Lukić for this war crime.
A procedure is being conducted before the War Crimes Chamber of the High Court in Belgrade against five members of the VRS Višegrad Brigade for a crime committed in Štrpci, who are charged as direct perpetrators.
Family members of victims of this crime, due to the discriminatory legislation in Serbia, which denies them rights only because they died outside the territory of Serbia (BiH) and because they were killed by VRS members, cannot obtain the status of family members of civilian war victims, which would provide them with symbolic benefits in the form of monthly cash benefits and social support.
The victims of this crime are: Esad Kapetanović, Ilijaz Ličina, Fehim Bakija, Šećo Softić, Rifat Husović, Halil Zupčević, Senad Đečević, Jusuf Rastoder, Ismet Babačić, Tomo Buzov, Adem Alomerović, Muhedin Hanić, Safet Preljević, Džafer Topuzović Fikret Memović, Fevzija Zeković, Nijazim Kajević, Zvjezdan Zuličić and one unknown person. The victims were from Serbia and Montenegro, from Belgrade, Prijepolje, Bijelo Polje and Podgorica. The oldest victim was 59 and the youngest 16 years old.