The Štrpci Case: Deriding the Victims, Slap at Justice

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The fifteenth hearing for the kidnapping in Štrpci is scheduled for today (March 2 2020) before the Higher Court, War Crimes Department. Gojko Lukić, Ljubiša Vasiljević, Duško Vasiljević and Dragana Đekić, members of the Avengers, a unit under command of Milan Lukić, and Jovan Lipovac, member of the First Troop, First Battalion of the Višegrad Brigade of the Republic of Srpska Army are on trial before the War Crime Department of the Higher Court in Belgrade for the crime in Štrpci.

The defendants are accused of committing, as co-perpetrators, a crime against civilian population. After the abduction, they took all 20 passengers to the school in Prelovo (Višegrad municipality, Bosnia and Herzegovina), where they were stripped naked, robbed and beaten. Than the same group took the abducted people to a house in the nearby village of Mušići, where they were killed. The last stop for these twenty passengers was the Drina River, in which their bodies were thrown.

Mitrašin Glišić was supposed to testify at this hearing. However, the hearing was postponed because Nebojša Perović, Duško Vasiljević’s defence counsel failed to appear. Mitrašin Glišić was brought from Bosnia and Herzegovina to Belgrade by the witness protection unit. He was a cook at the primary school in Prelovo, where the passengers from the train 671 at the Belgrade-Bar railway were imprisoned, beaten and robbed, which was confirmed by witnesses Dragoljub Čarikić and Milan Ilić, members of the First Troop of the Višegrad Brigade of the Republic of Srpska Army based in Prelovo at the time confirmed at the hearing of November 25 2019.

After 10-minute recess, Presiding Judge Vera Vuković fined the defence counsel Perović for failing to timely notify the court. She first asked the defendant Vasiljević to call Perović during the recess, but Vasiljević said that his phone was switched off.

Nail Kajević, brother of abducted Nijazim Kajević, whose remains are still missing, said last Thursday, on the anniversary of the Štrpci abduction, that he expected the trial to continue (March 2) because of Glišić’s testifying. Nail Kajević reminded that Glišić was ordered by Milan Lukić to clean up the hall of the Primary School Prelovo after torturing, robbing and taking the abducted passengers to the place of execution. However, the hearing was postponed to March 30, due to the absence of defence counsel Perović. This is the fifth postponed hearing out of 15 scheduled. 

The fact that defence counsel Perović appeared in front of the Higher Court at 29 Ustanička Street only a few minutes after the end of postponed hearing and turned to and laughed at Selma Memović-Čolović, daughter of abducted Fikret Memović, speaks of coordinated obstruction of the trial in the Štrpci case. 

Perović was additionally rude and, standing in front of the court building, he gave a statement to the Danas daily that he was late because of the traffic jam and that he would appeal the RSD 50,000 fine. Such behaviour of defence counsel Perović as well as a mild reaction of the Presiding Judge to his violations, in spite of fining him, only deepens the suffering of victims’ families and signals the witnesses that it may be better for them to keep quiet.

The next hearing is scheduled on March 30 at 9:30, 29 Ustanička Street.

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