Indictment expected in Strpci war crimes case after 22 years

BELGRADE -- B92 has received confirmation that the War Crimes Prosecution will in the coming days bring charges against five suspects in the Strpci case.

Prosecutor Vladimir Vukcevic told Radio B92 that 22 years after the crime, it has been discovered what led to the abduction and executions.

"After 22 years, we are on the threshold to solve the mystery called Strpci. In partnership with colleagues from Bosnia-Herzegovina, we were able to clarify what led to the kidnappings and later the executions of these people," he said.

He announced that an indictment will be raised in the next few days, after a three-month investigation.

"The indictment will be raised by us in Serbia, where five of the accused are. I believe that colleagues from Bosnia will do the same," Vukcevic said.

Friday marks the 22nd anniversary since 20 passengers, 18 of whom Muslims (Bosniaks) were abducted from a passenger train at the Strpci station on the Belgrade-Bar line and later killed.

The prosecution has announced that pursuant to an order issued by Vukcevic, preliminary investigation in Serbia was led against Gojko Lukic, Ljubisa Vasiljevic, Dusko Vasiljevic, Jovan Lipovca and Dragana Dekic, on suspicion that they committed war crimes against civilians.

Asked why it took 22 years to shed light on the crime, the prosecutor reiterated that there was obstruction in the state, but once again did not specify what it was about.

"I have already said publicly that there was obstruction in the state authorities who acted on it. I debated about that extensively in the media as well," Vukcevic said.

The prosecutor added that a characteristics of war crimes cases is that they are ongoing.

"New cases are discovered aways, new defendants, new victims. This is certainly not a definitive number of perpetrators that have committed that crime. We will try to investigate all the way," he said.

As stated by the prosecution, the joint investigative team for a year and a half, intensively, in Serbia and Bosnia- Herzegovina, examined over a hundred witnesses and gathered evidence needed for an indictment.

In an action of the two prosecutions on December 5, 2014 a total of 15 suspects was arrested - members of the VRS (Bosnian Serb army) and the paramilitary group "Osvetnici" - five in the territory of Serbia and ten in the territory of Bosnia-Herzegovina, on suspicion that they participated in the kidnapping and murder of 20 passengers from the train, which was operating on the route Belgrade-Bar.

The suspects took the abducted passengers to a school in Prelovo, robbed and beat them, to then take them to an abandoned house near the banks of the River Drina where they were shot and killed and their bodies thrown into the Drina.

In the vicinity of Lake Perucac in 2010 the remains of Rasim Coric, Jusuf Rastoder, Halil Zupcevic and Ilijaz Licina were found and identified, while search continues for the bodies of Esad Kapetanovic, Fehima BAkiju, Seca Softic, Rafet Husovic, Senad Djecevic, Ismet Babacic, Toma Buzov, Adem Alomerovic, Muhedin Hanic, Safet Preljevic, Jafar Topuzovic, Fikret Memovic, Fevzija Zekovic, Nijaz Kajevic and Zvezdan Zulicic.

"The procedure in the case Strpci is an example of effective cooperation between the two prosecutions on the basis of the protocol on cooperation because it is a war crime where the act of the war crime, its victims and witnesses, are located in the area of the two countries," the prosecution said.