Only an abnormal person can call for killings and slaughter, the head of the Women Victims of War association, Bakira Hasecic, said following the Monday hearing in the trial against three members of an ultra-nationalist Ravna Gora Chetnik Movement who are accused of inciting national, racial and religious hatred, discord and intolerance in the area of Visegrad.
In March 2019, hundreds of sympathisers of the Ravna Gora Chetnik Movement gathered to pay tribute to the WWII Chetnik leader Dragoljub ‘Draza’ Mihailovic, who was convicted and executed in 1946 for war crimes and treason.
During the 1992-95 Bosnian war, Serb nationalists wearing Chetnik insignia expelled thousands and killed hundreds of ethnic Bosniaks in Visegrad.
Those who attended the 2019 gathering sang the songs that glorified atrocities and announced new ones, which outraged the Bosniak returnees in the town.
Prosecutors said participants in the event emulated a military line-up and used military terminology and that they gave speeches and played songs that “expresses threat or violence” and “caused anxiety and fear” among the population in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
They charged the head of the ‘Ravna Gora Movement of Republika Srpska’, Dusan Sladojevic, as well as participants in the gathering, Slavko Aleksic and Risto Lecic, with inciting national, racial and religious hatred, discord and intolerance in the area of Visegrad and its surroundings.
The indictment was submitted by the Women Victims of War association, who said they hope the nationalist association will be banned.
The lawyers of the three defendants, however, say that there is nothing their clients are guilty of.
According to Sladojevic's lawyer, Dusan Peric, the gathering was reported and the Ravna Gora Chetnik Movement is a registered association, and there is no grounds for the charges.
“I'm only talking about the gathering, it was done in accordance with the goals of the association,” he said.
When reporters asked him about the nationalist songs that could reportedly be heard at the gathering, which contain lyrics such as “the Drina river will be blood again,” he said that “such words were not uttered at the organised gathering” and that he does not know “in which context they were uttered.”
“The punishments are drastic for such acts, but in this case, in my opinion, there is no criminal responsibility,” he said.
Hasecic, whose association submitted the criminal complaint in regard to the gathering, said that such gatherings take place continuously for years and that nobody has been preventing it from happening.
She said that she was in Visegrad that day in 2019, and that she saw a large group of men, some wearing uniforms. A woman at the local market warned her, she said.
“A woman just told me ‘Bakira, go home’,” she remembered.
“I survived these things in my bloody Visegrad in 1992, rape, slaughters, mass killings,” she said, adding that she saw “the bloody Drina flowing” at the time.
“In the 21st century, only an abnormal person can call for a slaughter, killing. This is being done by an NGO, but they are actually Chetniks. I will be a witness in this case and I hope that the Court of BiH will prevent it (from happening in the future),” she said.
“This action of the Ravna Gora Chetnik movement is a threat to the security of all citizens, and I hope that this will be a warning so it never happens again in BiH,” she stressed.