International Information Centre for Balkan Studies

Veteran associations mark anniversary of Dobrovoljacka street incident

May 3, 2021

Former members of the Army of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina gathered on Monday in Sarajevo central street to mark the 29th anniversary of the day when, as they said, commenced the longest siege of a city that lasted for over 1,400 days.

The former Yugoslav People’s Army “showed its true face on May 2nd and took the side of the aggressor,” said Vahid Alic, the head of the Green Berets association branch of the Sarajevo Stari Grad Municipality speaking at the event in Sarajevo’s street formerly known as Dobrovoljacka street.

“Many of our fellow citizens believed that former JNA was the guarantee of peace and stability but it showed its true face on May 2nd,” said Alic.

And while members of Bosnian veterans’ associations commemorate their comrades who died during the so-called Dobrovoljacka street incident on May 3, 1992, those from Bosnia’s Serb-majority part organize their own commemoration to remember the members of the Yugoslav National Army who were killed in the same incident.

Over the past few years, they will hold a commemoration in Miljevici, East Sarajevo, the neighboring city located in the Serb-majority region, Republika Srpska.

The controversy of the events refers to the pulling out of Yugoslav People’s Army (JNA) soldiers, who had been stationed in Sarajevo barracks, and generally to the developments from the beginning of May the same year, soon after the siege of the city began.

A convoy of some 30 vehicles carrying JNA soldiers was supposed to leave Sarajevo on May 3, 1992. Their departure was previously agreed in exchange for the release of the President of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Alija Izetbegovic, who had been detained earlier by the JNA.

However, as the departing convoy was passing the Dobrovoljacka Street, skirmishes between the JNA and Bosnian Army units occurred, which led to 7 killed and 14 injured, according to the Bosnian Prosecutor’s Office.

The Serbian Prosecutor’s Office for War Crimes took the Dobrovoljacka case from the Belgrade Military Court in 1992, which charged 19 Bosnian citizens for the attack on the barracks on May 2 and 3, in which, according to the Belgrade prosecution, 42 JNA members were killed.

The Bosnian Prosecutor’s Office had halted the investigation into the Dobrovoljacka Street case in 2012. The former Hague Tribunal which later investigated the event established that the JNA convoy was a legitimate military target and decided not to press any charges.

Bosnian war veterans assessed these events from 1992 as a “classic coup.”

“The battle had lasted until late in the night on May 2nd when members of the Green Berets, Patriotic League, Interior Ministry, Interior Ministry’s special unit and other organizations within the Territorial Defence of BiH managed to defeat the fourth force of Europe, former JNA, and push it back to their initial position,” said Alic.

But, on the other hand, the authorities in Bosnia’s Serb-majority region insist on further investigation into the death of former JNA members.

Speaker of the Republika Srpska entity parliament, Nedeljko Cubrilovic, recalled that the Bosnian Constitutional Court accepted on January 17, 2018, the motions by family members of two JNA soldiers who died in the 1992 incident in former Dobrovoljacka street but that it remains unclear if the Bosnian Prosecutor’s Office took any steps since then.

“Despite the Constitutional Court’s decision and the Criminal Code of this country, the Prosecutor’s Office of BiH, remains silent to the war crime against innocent soldiers in the 1992 withdrawal until today. Such selective justice and attempts to make one people responsible for the horrors of war in this country, with the decisions of the Court of BiH and indictments of Prosecutor’s Office of BiH, make the coexistence impossible,” Cubrilovic said on Monday.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/veteran-associations-mark-anniversary-of-dobrovoljacka-street-incident/

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