|Location||Sijekovac, Bosnia and Herzegovina|
|Perpetrators||Croatian National Guard,
Army of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina,
Croatian Defence Forces
The Sijekovac killings refer to the March 1992 killing of around 47 Serbs in the village of Sijekovac near Bosanski Brod, Bosnia and Herzegovina. The deaths were allegedly unlawful, and there have been allegations that the casualties included not just soldiers but civilians.[clarification needed] The assailants were members of Croat and Bosniak army units.
As contradictory data appeared in the media, and the events have not passed a court validation yet, the full course of the case is unknown. The incident is sometimes politicized by both the Croatian and Serbian media.
The village of Sijekovac is located southwest of Bosanski Brod, on the left side of the river Sava, across from Croatia. At the time, as the Bosnian War was starting, it was still populated by members of all three nations of Bosnia and Herzegovina. After the initial reports in 1992, three members of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina arrived by helicopter to investigate a reported "dozen killed civilians".
The Serb authorities at the time immediately claimed that Serb civilians were massacred in Sijekovac. According to a 1993 report by Helsinki Watch, there was no evidence of the use of excessive force. The report was based on interviews with some twenty Serb villagers that had fled the area, who said that those killed were armed combatants engaged in hostilities, or civilians caught in the crossfire. Under international law, deaths under crossfire cannot be considered as genocide.
The authorities of Republika Srpska marked the site with a monument listing 47 casualties. Among those publicly implicated by the Serbian side are the 108th brigade of Croatian National Guard (by then renamed into the Croatian Army), the Intervention Squad of the Army of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Croatian Defence Forces.
In 2002, during the ICTY Prijedor massacre Trial against Milomir Stakić, former leader of the Bosnian Serbs in Prijedor, the Defence called a survivor of the alleged massacre in Sijekovac in order to support a claim that the war in Bosnia and Hercegovina was caused not by the Serbs, but by incursions into Bosnian territory by the Croatian army to the north of Bosanski Šamac.
In 2004, Federal Commission for Tracing Missing persons started exhumations near Bosanski Brod, due to a suspicion that a number of Bosniak victims were buried in the location which is actually a Bosniak graveyard. A report mentions the possibility of an illegal trade with human organs, given the victims were found for the most part naked. Judge of the Zenica-Doboj Court from Zenica, Enisa Adrović, noted the exhumations had taken 14 days, and that the victims were for the most part Serb civilians. The exhumation recovered 59 corpses and was done under the supervision of Federation Commission for Missing Persons. The first 8 bodies found had personal objects (cloths, T-shirt, a belt, buttons, spectacles), yet the remaining 49 bodies had no objects that could help in their identification. Among them there were 18 bodies of children.
Several exhumation officials initially suspected that most victims were civilians from Vukovar, including Goran Krcmar, a member of the Republika Srpska Office for Missing Persons and the District Prosecutor of Doboj, Slavko Krulj, who referenced the Veritas Information Center. But, these assumptions were subsequently refuted. No representatives from the Republic of Croatia's Office for Missing Persons were present at the exhumation. Savo Štrbac, Director of the Veritas Information Center, noted that the number of children found seemed to vastly exceed the amount of children actually reported as missing from Sijekovac. Tomo Aračić, the president of Udruženje '92, the organization that initiated the exhumation in the first place, said that they had no actual information about any Vukovar children at Sijekovac. The presiding officer of the Federal Commission for Missing Persons Marko Jurišić also stated unequivocally that the identities of the majority of the bodies were unknown and that they only analysis from forensic medicine experts could determine that.
In May 2010, the leaders of Republika Srpska Rajko Kuzmanović and Milorad Dodik, the Croatian president Ivo Josipović and the prominent Bosniak leader Sulejman Tihić visited the site to pay respect to around fifty civilian victims of the March 1992 events, at the local Orthodox Church of Saint Marina the Martyr. The site and the visit provoked some controversy in the Croatian public, with allegations of impropriety levelled against President Josipović and the authorities of Republika Srpska for misattributing some of the casualties.
- Chuck Sudetic (1992-03-28). "BOSNIA ASKING U.N. FOR PEACE FORCES". New York Times. Retrieved 2010-06-02.
- "Poziv zvaničnicima na pomen za 60 ubijenih Srba u Sijekovcu". Nezavisne novine. 2007-03-13.
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- Cushman, Thomas; Meštrović, Stjepan Gabriel (1996). This Time We Knew. Western Responses to Genocide in Bosnia. New York University Press. p. 98. ISBN 0-8147-1535-4.
- Nizich, Ivana (1993). War crimes in Bosnia-Hercegovina. Helsinki Watch. p. 45. ISBN 1-56432-083-9.
- "Posavljaci Josipoviću - Ne idite u Bosansku Posavinu, Dodik će vas prevariti". Slobodna Dalmacija (in Croatian). 2010-05-29. Retrieved 2010-06-02.
- "Testimony of one Nijaz Kapetanović". Case Number IT-97-24-T, the Prosecutor versus Milomir Stakic. UN ICTY. 2002-05-14. p. 2976. Retrieved 2010-06-02. "Q. [...] Have you ever heard of massacres at Sijekovac and Kupres which occurred in the month of March 1992? A. As far as I heard, yes. [...]"
- "Courtside: Prijedor Genocide Trial". Institute for War and Peace Reporting. 29 April 2005.
- "Open session". Case Number IT-97-24-T, the Prosecutor versus Milomir Stakic. UN ICTY. 2002-11-18. p. 9086. Retrieved 2010-02-06. "[Defence attorney] Mr. Lukić: [Interpretation] Therefore, the incursion of the regular Croatian forces into the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina occurred on the 3rd of May, 1992. After that, on the 26th of March, there was the massacre of Serb civilians in the village of Sijekovac in Bosanski Brod Municipality which was also covered in all the media, and members of the presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina went to the scene. [...]"
- Nezavisne novine (2004-08-11). "EXHUMATIONS - Most victims suspected to be civilians from Vukovar". SFOR Main News Summary. NATO. Retrieved 2010-06-02.
- Nezavisne novine and Oslobođenje (2004-08-12). "EXHUMATIONS - Exhumation of mass grave at Sijekovac completed, 59 bodies found". SFOR Main News Summary. NATO. Retrieved 2010-06-02.
- Garmaz, Željko; Matkić, Zoran (2004-08-13). "Djeca iskopana iz grobnice u Sijekovcu nisu iz Vukovara". Vjesnik (in Croatian). Retrieved 2009-05-01.