19 years since abduction in Štrpci

BELGRADE -- Monday will mark 19 years since the crime in the village of Štrpci, close to the border with Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Members of a paramilitary unit took 19 non-Serb citizens of the former Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) from a train at the Štrpci station and killed them.

The Serbian War Crimes Prosecutor's Office announced the continuation of relevant investigation.

The prosecutor's office found new information about the crime in the village of Štrpci and announced that it would continue the investigation in cooperation with a number of witnesses, and also using information from a book written by Commander of the Avengers (Osvetnici) paramilitary unit Milan Lukić, who was sentenced to life imprisonment for this and other crimes by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY).

Serbian Deputy War Crimes Prosecutor Bruno Vekarić told Tanjug that the prosecutor's office still investigated the case, adding that the investigation was continuing in cooperation with the ICTY, the Serbian Interior Ministry MUP and BiH police, as well as with the help from the families of the victims.

"After finding the remains of two bodies in Lake Perućac, we now know which clue to follow in our further investigation," Vekarić said.

On the occasion of commemoration of the Štrpci crime anniversary, the Bosniak National Council announced that its delegation would today pay homage to the victims and lay flowers at the memorial in the town of Prijepolje, western Serbia.

The abduction of 18 Bosniaks and one Croat citizen from FRY happened at the Štrpci train station on February 27, 1993. The kidnapped people were executed near Višegrad, a town in eastern BiH.

The abduction of 19 citizens of former FRY from the train 671 at the Štrpci train station was carried out by the Avengers paramilitary formation from Republika Srpska.

According to the relevant ICTY indictment, the paramilitary unit's members took the abducted citizens to the village of Prelovo near Višegrad, robbed them of their money, jewelry and other valuable possessions and physically abused them in a primary school's gym.

The abducted train passengers were then tied up with wire and taken by a truck to a garage of a burned down house close to the banks of the river Drina where they were murdered.

The only individual convicted for his role in the crime is Nebojša Ranisavljević. He was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment by the FRY Higher Court in the town of Bijelo Polje (northern Montenegro) on September 9, 2002.

Two years later, the Montenegrin Supreme Court confirmed the verdict.