Families, friends and neighbours gathered at the Slana Banja memorial Saturday morning to commemorate the victims of the Tuzla massacre which took place 24 years ago in that city, the third largest in Bosnia.
On May 25, 1995, Bosnian Serb forces fired a missile at the Kapija neighbourhood, killing 71 and wounding more than 200, mostly the young.
Novak Djukic, a former Republika Srpska Army commander, was sentenced to 25 years in prison for ordering the shelling but released in 2014 after Bosnia's Constitutional Court annulled the ruling due to procedural errors.
Bosnia's State Court reduced his sentence later that year to 20 years but his lawyer informed the court a few days later that his client was in Serbia.
In October that year, Bosnia issued an arrest warrant for Djukic as he did not show up to serve his sentence. Bosnia then asked Serbia to extradite him.
The Higher Court in Belgrade postponed the hearing at which Serbia was to take over the case several times, the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN) reported.
The youngest victim of the massacre was three-year-old Sandro Kalesic.
“That's an already told story. The story you live with 24 hours a day. People like us, they carry the tragedy deep within. All of us who were here have some kind of a tragedy, a trauma, although 24 years have passed. The memories are still alive,” Sandro's father, Dino Kalesic, told N1 following the commemoration.
He recalled the day when the tragedy happened. Dino worked for a local TV station during the 1992-95 war and that was his first day off and the first day he spent together with his wife and three-year-old son.
They were out, celebrating the wedding anniversary in a modest way, the way the war conditions allowed them. A sudden sound of the explosion ended it.
According to Kalesic, Djukic's escape was an expected scenario.
“We all guessed that would happen. We were working he had a plan.”
May 25 used to be celebrated as the Youth Day in ex-Yugoslavia, the country Bosnia was part of before declaring independence in 1991.
The youth of Tuzla was out on streets on May 25, 1995, while the war was raging across the country. The city centre was filled with young people who came out on a sunny day and wished to live a normal life for at least a few hours.
Tuzla Canton authorities declared in 2016 May 25 the mourning day on its whole territory.