The Kapija atrocity - 15 years on

Author: BIRN
Uploaded: Wednesday, 26 May, 2010

25 May this year marks the fifteen anniversary of the murder of 71 people at Kapija in Tuzla, for which VRS general Novak Djukic was sentenced to 25 years imprisonment by the Court of Bosnia-Herzegovina




The fifteenth anniversary of the murder of 71 people at Kapija in Tuzla is being marked this year. The programme of commemoration of the crime will begin at noon on 25 May, when wreathes and flowers will be laid at the cemetery in Slana Banja, where most of the victims are buried.


On that day in 1995 a projectile hit the Tuzla district known as Kapija, killing 71 and wounding more than 150 people. Only a few casualties were more than 30 years old, while a two-and-a-half-year-old boy, Sandro Kalesic, was the youngest victim.


Sinan Alic of the ‘Truth, Justice and Reconciliation’ association told Justice Report that, as well as reminding people of all the victims and reading out the victims' names, the commemoration will be devoted to all other civilian war victims from Tuzla who were killed in the period from 1992 to 1995.


Besides the municipal authorities and representatives of victims' associations, members of the Youth Initiative for Human Rights from Belgrade will attend the commemorative gathering. By their symbolic walk they will mark the 15th anniversary of the crime committed at Kapija in Tuzla.


The Court of Bosnia-Herzegovina pronounced a first-instance verdict, sentencing Gen. Novak Djukic, former Commander of the Ozren Tactical Group of the Republika Srpska Army (VRS), for this crime. In June 2009 Djukic was sentenced to 25 years in prison for having ordered the shelling of Tuzla by 130-mm cannon on 25 May 1995.


In April this year the State Prosecution and Defence presented their first-instance verdict appeals before the Appellate Chamber of the Court of Bosnia-Herzegovina.


During Djukic's trial, the Prosecution of Bosnia-Herzegovina examined more than 20 witnesses who were in Kapija on 25 May 1995 when the projectile landed. They lost their friends and family members, and some were wounded.


Dino Kalesic, father of the youngest victim Sandro, was among the witnesses. He told the Court his son died in his arms on the way to the hospital. ‘On that day the place was full of young people. Every street, every coffee shop was full. A projectile hit the ground, destroying everything that was merry, joyful, young and beautiful. In just one moment, everything became extinct. People were either killed or wounded. The music and lights were extinguished. There was nothing but darkness and an ominous tingling in our ears,’ Kalesic said during his testimony.


This account appeared in BIRN's

Justice Report, 24 May 2010

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