Those who committed war crimes in the northwestern town of Prijedor “crowned it” with the Koricani Cliffs Massacre and those who ordered it are still to face justice, the head of the regional association of former prison camp detainees in Banja Luka told N1 on Wednesday.
“At the 27th anniversary (of the Koricani Cliffs Massacre), we stand at the abyss, at the place where one of the most monstrous crimes committed as part of the aggression on Bosnia and Herzegovina, which was mentioned in every court process before the Hague Tribunal and the State Court took place,” Mirsad Duratovic told N1.
“The Koricani Cliffs (massacre) represents the crown of a crime which members of the intervention squad of the Prijedor police committed,” he said.
Family members of at least 200 victims of the 1992 Koricani Cliffs Massacre threw on Wednesday 200 roses down the cliff where their relatives were executed by Bosnian Serb police and thrown into the abyss.
On August 21, 1992, Bosnian Serb police officers rounded up the mostly Bosniak and Croat men detained at the prison camps around the northwestern town of Prijedor and told them they were to be exchanged for Serb prisoners of war.
The Prijedor intervention squad officers instead took the men to the Koricani Cliffs in central Bosnia. They lined them up on a cliff facing down the abyss, ordered them to kneel, and shot them in the back. The bodies fell down the more than 300 metre-high cliffs.
“Some 200 prison camp inmates were killed, most were identified and their body parts were found. We have five inmates from Prijedor on the list whose remains have still not been found,” Duratovic said.
Prosecutors and the State Court have still today not initiated investigations against those who ordered the crime and those who helped hide the remains of the victims later, he said.
He said that 12 people survived the massacre, that 11 were convicted and that they received altogether a total of about 200 years in prison.
Duratovic calculated that each perpetrator received about 28 years in prison per victim.
“Recently Darko Mrdja was sentenced for war crimes for the second time for his involvement at Koricani Cliffs, he confessed to the crime, he will one day be released - and we will continue to search for our loved ones,” Duratovic said.
Most of the survivors of the massacre now live in foreign countries, he said.
“They lost any hope for justice in this country, in the judiciary which hands down light sentences. They mostly live elsewhere and avoid media and the public for their own reasons,” he told N1.
Non-Serb post-war returnees in Prijedor are “not recognised” by the system in Prijedor, he said, adding that the legal system does not recognise the status of prison camp survivors.
“There is no monument in the town, it is here at the Koricani Cliffs and near the concentration camp,” he said.
Duratovic said that there are not many incidents based on national or religious affiliation taking place in Prijedor among common citizens.
Some incidents take place "sporadically," he said.
"Sometimes there is attacks on religious buildings, but that was always happening. Someone will always emerge and do something like that,” he said, adding that the system “must be cleaned up from people who were either directly or indirectly involved in the crimes.”