Sijekovac killings

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Sijekovac killings
Location Sijekovac, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Date 26 March 1992
Target Serbs
Deaths 59[1]
Perpetrators Croatian Defence Council, Army of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina and other militia

The Sijekovac killings, also called the Sijekovac massacre, refers to the unlawful killing of 59 Serbs, including 18 children, in Sijekovac near Bosanski Brod, Bosnia and Herzegovina on 26 March 1992, marking it as the first massacre of civilians during the war.[citation needed] The assailants were members of Croat and Bosniak army units.[2][3][4]

The fighting in Posavina began in early March 1992, after Serbian Territorial Defense forces set up barricades in the town of Bosanski Brod and tried to seize the strategically important bridge linking the town with Croatia, prompting the local Croats and Muslims to form a joint headquarters, and to request assistance from the Croatian Army, based just across the border in Slavonski Brod.[5] Following a ceasefire of several weeks the JNA and Serb militias once again attacked the town, launching a heavy artillery bombardment and sniper fire, and looting took place in the Croat quarter of the town.[6]

The Croats retaliated by attacking the village of Sijekovac on the right side of the Sava River, 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".[2]

The detailed testimonies about the murders, tortures and rape that ensued after Croat units occupied the village were recorded by the ICTY but no one was ever indicted; instead all of the documentation was passed to courts in Sarajevo in 2004.[7] The trial was underway in 2014. In July 2016 a written testimony of crimes emerged, documents allowing members of Croat units to sexually abuse imprisoned Serb women, signed by a local commander Ahmet Čaušević.[8]

The authorities of Republika Srpska marked the site with a monument listing 47 casualties.[9] Among those publicly implicated by the Serbian side are the 108th brigade of Croatian National Guard (by then renamed into the Croatian Army),[3][4] the Intervention Squad of the Army of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina[4] and the Croatian Defence Forces.[4]

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 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 north of Bosanski Šamac.[10][11][12]

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.[citation needed] The 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 [sic] bodies had no objects that could help in their identification. Among them there were 18 bodies of children.[13] RS monitors mentioned the possibility of an illegal trade in human organs, as the victims were mostly part naked.[13]

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.[13] No representatives from the Republic of Croatia's Office for Missing Persons were present at the exhumation.[why?][13] Savo Štrbac, Director of the Veritas Information Center, claimed the number of children found seemed to vastly exceed the number of children actually reported as missing from Sijekovac.[14]

Tomo Aračić, 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.[15] The presiding officer of the Federal Commission for Missing Persons, Marko Jurišić, claimed the identities of the majority of the bodies were unknown and that only analysis by forensic experts could determine such details.[15]

In May 2010, the leaders of Republika Srpska (Rajko Kuzmanović and Milorad Dodik), the Croatian president (Ivo Josipović) and a prominent Bosniak leader (Sulejman Tihić) all 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.[4] The site and the visit provoked some controversy in Croatia, with allegations of impropriety levelled against President Josipović and the authorities of Republika Srpska for misattributing some of the casualties.[9]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Nezavisne novine (11 August 2004). "EXHUMATIONS - Most victims suspected to be civilians from Vukovar". SFOR Main News Summary. NATO. Retrieved 10 July 2012. 
  2. ^ a b Chuck Sudetic (28 March 1992). "BOSNIA ASKING U.N. FOR PEACE FORCES". New York Times. Retrieved 2 June 2010. 
  3. ^ a b "Poziv zvaničnicima na pomen za 60 ubijenih Srba u Sijekovcu". Nezavisne novine. 13 March 2007. 
  4. ^ a b c d e "Hrvatski predsjednik dočekan pljeskom - Josipović odao počast ubijenim srpskim civilima". Novi list (in Croatian). 30 May 2010. Retrieved 12 August 2015. [dead link]
  5. ^ CIA Balkan Battlegrounds Volume II, p. 311
  6. ^ Nederlands Institut voor Oologsdocumentatie, Part I: The Yugoslavian problem and the role of the West 1991-1994, Chapter 5: The start of the war in Bosnia-Hercegovina: March–May 1992.
  7. ^ Zločin bez kazne, http://blog.b92.net/text/4477/Zlocin-bez-kazne/
  8. ^ http://www.blic.rs/vesti/republika-srpska/monstruozni-dokumenti-ovako-izgledaju-potvrde-za-silovanje-srpkinja/950p85f
  9. ^ a b "Posavljaci Josipoviću - Ne idite u Bosansku Posavinu, Dodik će vas prevariti". Slobodna Dalmacija (in Croatian). 29 May 2010. Retrieved 2 June 2010. 
  10. ^ "Testimony of one Nijaz Kapetanović". Case Number IT-97-24-T, the Prosecutor versus Milomir Stakic. UN ICTY. 14 May 2002. p. 2976. Retrieved 2 June 2010. 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. [...] 
  11. ^ "Courtside: Prijedor Genocide Trial". Institute for War and Peace Reporting. 29 April 2005. 
  12. ^ "Open session". Case Number IT-97-24-T, the Prosecutor versus Milomir Stakic. ICTY. 18 November 2002. p. 9086. Retrieved 6 February 2010. [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. [...] 
  13. ^ a b c d Nezavisne novine (11 August 2004). "EXHUMATIONS - Most victims suspected to be civilians from Vukovar". SFOR Main News Summary. NATO. Retrieved 2 June 2010. 
  14. ^ Nezavisne novine and Oslobođenje (12 August 2004). "EXHUMATIONS - Exhumation of mass grave at Sijekovac completed, 59 bodies found". SFOR Main News Summary. NATO. Retrieved 2 June 2010. 
  15. ^ a b Garmaz, Željko; Matkić, Zoran (13 August 2004). "Djeca iskopana iz grobnice u Sijekovcu nisu iz Vukovara". Vjesnik (in Croatian). Retrieved 1 May 2009. 

Sources[edit]

  • Drago Jovanović, Gordana Bundalo, Miloš Govedarica, eds. (1994). Iskorenjivanje Srba u Bosni i Hercegovini, 1992-1993 [The Eradication of Serbs in Bosnia and Herzegovina, 1992–1993]. Belgrade: RAD. pp. 63–76. 

Coordinates: 45°7′0″N 17°58′42″E / 45.11667°N 17.97833°E / 45.11667; 17.97833