Minimal efforts of relevant institutions in the process of satisfying the justice for victims of crime in Štrpci

On the occasion of 23 years since the crime in Štrpci, Centre for Civic Education (CCE) reminds about duty of the system institutions, of all post-Yugoslav states, to recognize status of civilian war victims for victims of this crime, in order to thus at least minimally respect dignity of victims.

Not even after more than two decades there has not been established full responsibility for abduction and murder of 19 civilians in the place of Štrpci, of which eight were citizens of Montenegro, because the criminal proceeding is being conducted inappropriately slowly, and the relevant institutions have not until today found the remains of the victims in this crime.

In mid-April 2015, Prosecution Office of B&H charged Luka Dragicević, Boban and Petko Inđić, Obrad and Novak Poluga, Dragan Šekarić, Oliver Krsmanović, Radojica Ristić, Vuk Ratković, and Mićo Jovičić for abduction of 20 passengers from train 671 which was operating on the route Belgrade – Bar on 27 February 1993 in the place of Štrpci (Rudo municipality). Ten defendants were arrested at the end of 2014 in a joint operation of Prosecution Office of B&H and the Prosecution Office for War Crimes of Serbia, and later were released with prohibition measures. In Serbia, for crimes committed in Štrpci five people were arrested and charges against them were raised by the Prosecution Office for War Crimes of Serbia at the beginning of March 2015. So far, for the crime in Štrpci, only Nebojša Ranisavljević was convicted to 15 years in prison, in court proceedings conducted before the Higher Court in Bijelo Polje, where it was found that this crime was planned and that a group of members of the Višegrad Brigade of the Army of Republiks Srpska, led by Milan Lukić, in the afternoon hours of 27 February 1993 stopped the train that was operating on route Belgrade-Bar. After identification of passengers, they dragged 18 Muslims and one Croat out of the train, who were then led to the village of Prelovo. In the hall of the local primary school they were searched, robbed and beaten, and then executed. Ranisavljević was released from prison in 2011 after having served the sentence, while Milan Lukić, who commanded a group of kidnappers, was sentenced before the court in the Hague in 2009 for crimes against Muslim civilians in Višegrad during the war in B&H, while he was never put on trial for the crime in Štrpci.

The practice of so far conduct of war crimes proceedings before the Montenegrin judiciary has shown a serious lack of ability of these authorities to investigate, establish the facts and produce adequate judgment for war crimes. Chief Special Prosecutor has an obligation to change this situation and inform the public about what has been undertaken or intends to be undertaken. He is obligated to do so by increasingly expressed critics from international organizations, non-governmental organizations and associations of families of killed, missing and abducted during the wars of 90th years, indicating the lack of results in the fight against impunity for war crimes, and therefore justice for the victims.

It is a duty of all of us to, by building a culture of remembrance, contribute to establishment of transitional justice and restoring dignity to all innocent victims, but also to generations that are to come. CCE will, individually or as a reference organization of the Coalition for RECOM, continue to carry out activities aimed at establishing a culture of remembrance, so that horrors of war and victims of war crimes would not be forgotten, and will also insist for authorities to bring those responsible for crimes to justice.
Victims of crime in Štrpci are: Esad Kapetanović, Ilijaz Ličina, Fehim Bakija, Šećo Softić, Rifet Husović, Sead Đečević, Ismet Babačić, Halil Zupčević, Adem Alomerović, Rasim Ćorić, Fikret Memetović, Favzija Zeković, Nijazim Kajević, Muhedin Hanić, Safet Preljević, Džafer Topuzović, Jusuf Rastoder, Zvezdan Zuličić and Tomo Buzov.

Tamara Milaš, CCE Programme associate and Spokesperson of the Coalition for RECOM in Montenegro