Corpses Washed Away in Water
by Zoran Daskalovic
Feral Tribune, 4/10/95, Split, Croatia
In the early evening on 8/26/91, three uniformed persons came to the Rajsic family apartment in Sisak; they asked Dragomir Rajsic's wife, who was alone in the apartment, to give them the arms owned by her husband. She gave them a hunting rifle and two handguns, for which Rajsic had valid permits, but she was unable to find any ammunition. The men returned to the apartment ten minutes later and found the ammunition themselves, obviously based on information they could have obtained only from Dragan Rajcic himself. They did not leave a receipt for the taken arms or give any indication where Rajsic was or what had happened to him.
The very same night Dragan's son, Dragoljub Rajsic, tried to find out about his father's whereabouts and why he had been arrested, both in the Police and National Guard Command. However, he was unable to obtain any information. He next tried the County Prison and the Investigation Center of the District Court in Sisak, with the same results. From his mother's description and other indications, he concluded that Dragan Rajsic had been taken away by the National Guard members. The following day he contacted the Information Center in Sisak, the County president, the Croatian Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Central National Guard Staff, the Parliament's Committee for Protection of Human Rights and finally the office of the at the time president of the Yugoslav Presidency, Stjepan Mesic. After all that he still had no information about his father's destiny.
Partial List of the Murdered and Missing inhabitants of Sisak
Murdered: Family Vila (father Dusan, mother Evica, sons Marko and Zeljko), Nedeljko Kusic and his son Petar (worked for Refinery Sisak), Branko Oljaca (Sisak Police Command employee), Milenko Dapa (worked for Refinery Sisak), Grdoljub Nikolic (worked for Refinery Sisak), Dragan Sundac (lawyer in the Medical Center), Vaso Jelic (retired), Stevan Borojevic (worked for Tiskara), Jovo Crnobrnja (retired policeman), Damijan Zilic (technical director in Refinery Sisak), Vatroslav Vargas (solder in the Croatian Army), Vlado Bozic (driver in Slavijatrans from Petrinja), Ilija Martic, Stana Zivkovic, Staka Cadi (retired), Kuzman Kovacevic (worked for Zeljezara [steel works]).
Missing: Dragan Rajsic (retired), Branko Dabic (worked for Refinery Sisak), Petar Pajagic (economist in Refinery Sisak), Duro Lukac (retired).
Two weeks later he sent a letter to the Sisak Police Force Chief, Duro Brodarac, pleading for help in search for his father. He also sent copies of the letter to the National Guard Commander, the President of the Crisis Staff for Banija, Posavina and Moslavina, Ivan Bobetko, the local government representatives Miroslav Matic and Andrija Preloscan, the President of the District Court and the District Public Prosecutor and to Ivan Vjekic, who was the Minister for Internal affairs in the Croatian Government. However, none of them wanted or could explain to the Rajsic family what had happened to Dragan. The situation is still unchanged, almost four years after Dragan failed to return from his afternoon walk through Sisak.
Four years ago Dragan Rajsic was retired, after many years of work in INA-Refinery Sisak, in bad health and politically and socially inactive; the family saw the only reason for his arrest in the text which appeared on 6/19/91 in the 66th issue of Slobodni Tjednik and which had a list of 14 Sisak inhabitants who were allegedly agents for KOS [Yugoslav Counter Intelligence Service]. Dragan Rajsic's name was on the list. In the period between the publication of the list and his disappearance, Rajsic and his whole family had been through all sorts of unpleasant experiences. Everything finished two months later when Dragan Rajsic disappeared like a speck of dust in the emptiness of the universe.
List from Slobodni Tjednik
14 KOS [Yugoslav Counter Intelligence Service] agents from Sisak:
1.Rajko Mandic, retired policeman, used to live next to military base in Zazina, now living in Sisak.
2.Jovo Crnobrnja, retired policeman, living in Sisak, 3 Trakoscanska St. phone 41-932. His special assignment was to shadow the Brajkovic family from Odra, whose member Josip is the president of the county CDU committee in Sisak.
3. Mile Dukic ``Grbe", died two weeks ago. He participated in the war, and wrote an indictment against the Bobetko family, together with KOS major Zdravko Kerber. It is interesting that general Janko Bobetko saved Dukic's life during the war in eastern Bosnia, which can be confirmed by the Sisak brigade fighters. Later Dukic took charge of Janko Bobetko's persecution.
4. Dragan Rajsic, retired employee of State Security Service, also worked as a security chief in Sisak Refinery where he exclusively employed Serbs. Lives in Sisak, 4 Marshal Tito St., phone 22-957.
5. Branko Pejic, lives in Tisina Kapitolska village. Used to work for KOS pretending to be a great believer and going on pilgrimages to Medugorje, Marija Bistrica etc.
6. Josip Orijevic, retired chief of State Security Service, living in Sisak, Marshal Tito St. Co-owner of restaurant ``Quatro" in Ribar St. next to Sisak market.
7. Ilija Zoric, retired policeman, left state owned apartment in Sisak, 11 Brace Culig St., to son Milan. Zoric occasionally comes to Sisak, lives somewhere in Lika.
8. Stevo Grubor, retired policeman, living in Zagreb, 19 Leningradska St. Used to work in the Croatian Secretariat for Internal Affairs, commander in Federal Militia [police].
9. Milorad Indic, used to work in ``Zeljezara," now living in Zagreb. Rewarded by a place in the Parliament where he was the President of a Committee until the first democratic elections. Always had pro-chetnik orientation.
10. Drago Harmadi, chronic alcocholic, living in Sisak, 16 Dure Dakovica St., phone 31-885. Used to work in ``Zeljezara" as an economist, secretary of the Communist party Committee, first one to demand sacking of the Croatian leaders. During his career (he even reached the parliament) his wife and one of daughters committed suicide.
11. Rajko Radisic, put in position of the security chief at ``Zeljezara" by Stevo Koncar at KOS initiative. Distinguished himself by employing Serbs, retired, living in Sisak, Milanka Kljajic St.
12. Nikola Grabundzija, retired policeman, used to work as a commander of Federal Police for traffic control in Sisak. Lives in Sisak, 1 Seljo Ogulinac St., phone 23-013.
13. Rajko Miocinovic, retired functionary in State Security Service, living in Sisak, August Cesarec St. Rewarded with an apartment in Sisak, house in Petrinja and a shop in Sisak, on First International Square.
14. Slavko Ovuka, retired policeman. Because of his cooperation with KOS, he was let off without charges after killing a person in a traffic accident in Sisak in Ive Mirkovic St. Living in Sisak, 2 Brace Culig St., phone 40-309.
Dragan Rajsic is only one in the procession of inhabitants of Sisak who disappeared in a similar fashion; however, the bodies of some of them were later found , mostly floating down the rivers Sava or Kupa. The president of the Croatian Supreme Court in 1991, Vjekoslav Vidovic testified in the previous issue [number 498] of Feral Tribune, about the destiny which befell the inhabitants of Sisak whose names were on the (already mentioned) list which appeared in Slobodni Tjednik. In order to describe the circumstances in which the judges and courts worked in those days, he briefly told the Sisak story. The story deserves to be repeated in more detail. According to Vidovic, two judges from Sisak phoned him and asked for a meeting. Although he had other engagements, Vidovic decided to see them, judging that it was an important matter, since judges rarely request urgent meetings with the Supreme Court. Since, when the judges came to the Courthouse, he had been at the meeting in his office, Vidovic asked the secretary to take the Sisak judges to a different room and ask them to wait for a few minutes. When he later joined them, he did not hear anything extraordinary, which left him wondering about their intentions. He concluded that the judges changed their minds in the last moment and decided to hide the real reason for their trip to Zagreb
Panic in the City
Later Vidovic set up a meeting with the presidents of the Supreme Court departments where he ,among other things, told the story about Sisak judges and repeated his suspicions. They agreed that one of the Supreme Court judges should go to Sisak the very same day to find out what exactly was going on there. In Sisak he found out that the city was living in fear, even panic, because some of its inhabitants, from the list which had been published in Slobodni Tjednik, had been murdered and their corpses had been found in the river Kupa.
Since one of the local judges had been at the investigation and identification of the corpses, a documentation on the cases existed in the court files, but the authorities in charge had not done anything to start the investigation. Sisak judges, being scared themselves, decided to contact the Supreme Court and try to have something done about the cases. After returning from Sisak, the Supreme Court judge prepared a report, which Vidovic presented to the Prime Minister, Franjo Greguric. After being told about the situation in Sisak, Greguric asked curtly whether Vidovic had anything on paper. In the end Vidovic passed on the report to Greguric.
After he was removed from the position of the Supreme Court President, Vidovic asked for a copy of the Sisak report which had been placed in the Supreme Court Archive; however he was told that the report had disappeared. That was the end of the story. Franjo Greguric was not the only person to be informed about the events in Sisak. U.S. Helsinki Watch Committee recorded the murders of 13 Sisak inhabitants, as well as the Dragan Rajsic's disappearance and informed president Tudjman about them. At the beginning of '92 Croatian public prosecutor, Zeljko Olujic, visited the Helsinki Watch head office in New York where he was given the detailed information about the murders.
Later the Union of Serbs in Republic of Croatia in one of its letters to president Tudjman, also addressed the events in Sisak, stating that ``the total number of murdered [persons] cannot be known without a thorough and objective investigation (it is estimated, based on the number of disappeared, that at least 400 persons were murdered)." The Union suggested to president Tudjman to personally order `` an investigation into all cases" and to ``personally follow the results of investigations." They also added:`` taking into account informations from the territory of the Sisak Zupanija we also believe it is unacceptable that Duro Brodarac or any other individual who compromised himself with his passive attitude with respect to the events in Sisak, be elected for a Sisak Zupan [Governor]."
In spite of everything, despite the documentation in Sisak Court about the discovered corpses and even the documentation about approximately 40 Sisak inhabitants murdered by the unknown perpetrators at the Sisak Hospital pathology department, thorough investigation never occured. At one point a rumor that the investigation had been started and some suspects arrested spread through Sisak; however, ever if it were correct, nothing has ever been heard about the results of the investigation.
In the meantime, the present President of the Supreme Court, Milan Vukovic, became notorious because of his remark that Croats in this war could not have committed crimes. This has reserved a place for him in the reports of the international human rights organizations.
Supreme Court judges in the case of Sisak murders demanded respect of laws in the work of all state and judicial authorities and stated that, despite defensive character of the war, war crimes occured also on the Croatian side; probably because of that, they failed to pass through the CDU orchestrated selection process in nominations for the judges of the new Supreme Court (the process has been annulled by the Constitutional Court). The destiny of the Sisak judges who initiated demands for solution of the problem of the Sisak ``black hole" which swallows people, will become clearer when they take their turn for the nomination to permanent judicial positions. We will see whether they will be, as ``masochists", banished from the Court, or will, afraid, stay silent as if nothing ever happened in order to keep their positions, personal peace and safety.
Of all murders in Sisak, the public only knows about the details of the murder of Damijan Zilic, who was a chemical engineer and the production director in Sisak Refinery. He was murdered on 11/23/91 in Jakusevac, Zagreb. Four guardsmen from Sisak were suspects in this case, but were released without charges. A driver in Petrinja company ``Slavijatrans," Vlado Bozic, died from injuries suffered due to physical mistreatment after his arrest by the Ministry of Internal Affairs reservists. Sisak Police Chief, Duro Brodarac, confirmed at a press conference that the reservists over-stepped their authority in that case, but they were not charged with anything. Ilija Martic was killed in Sisak while leaving a restaurant. Staka Cadi and Kuzman Kovacevic were killed in 1993 in their respective homes. The circumstances under which the others were murdered remain unknown and their bodies were found mostly in the rivers Sava and Kupa or in a forest in Brezovica. The corpse of Stana Zivkovic from Mokosica was washed out of Sava at Zupanja [some 200 miles down the river from Sisak]. Duro Brodarac, Sisak Police Chief, confirmed in February of '92 that 12 suspects in the murders of the persons of Serb nationality had been arrested. However, the suspects have never been brought to trial.
Sisak Dossiers of Death 2: Death Squads in Croatia
Blast During the Curfew
by Zoran Daskalovic
Feral Tribune, 4/24/95, Split, Croatia
Sava close to Sisak still washes out corpses. Two weeks ago another two dead bodies were found in it. Nevertheless, the stories about earlier murders are still being retold. It is only necessary to listen to the people who cannot and do not want to forget the murders. This is how Feral, after publishing a partial list of murdered citizens of Sisak, found out the additional details of Sisak Death Chronicle
Four member Vila family - father, mother and two sons were beaten to death. Branko Oljaca was decapitated. Retiree Vaso Jelic had worked for a long time in France, for "Renault", and at the beginning of the war volunteered and maintained the National Guard's and Police's vehicles for free; one evening [he] was taken from his house; his corpse was washed out of the river Sava two months later. When a group of masked men suddenly showed up in front of the house, Vaso's wife started shouting at him to flee through the back door. ``God be with you, woman, why should I flee?", was Vaso's reply. Afterwards, it was too late. The masked death squad broke into the house, tied up other household members and took Vaso Jelic away to never come back.
Many secrets are buried in the Sisak cemetery. Those days, the cemetery was out of bounds. Those brave enough to visit their dead were even shot at. Reason: a permanent part of decor at the cemetery was a trench digging machine and a gas bottle. Trench digger was incessantly digging and the gas bottle was used to weld shut the metal coffins in which the murdered and "missing" inhabitants of Sisak had been placed. The coffins were buried in a common grave, to the left from and right next to the cemetery entrance...
Obviously, someone in Sisak had, similarly to the Parliament President Nedeljko Mihanovic, ``obtained reliable information" about cooperation of some of their compatriots with the enemy. That is why they, just like that, ignoring the judicial and investigative process, laws and justice, as if they were the God himself, made decisions about ''traitor's" liquidation, about life and death. The authorities were quiet and remain silent. Because ``the Croatians in this war could not have committed crimes." Even President Tudjman, in his address at the 2nd congress of Croatian Democratic Union (CDU), in trying to convince some of the CDU members from the extreme right to withdraw from running for the leadership posts, mentioned that international institutions and organizations had their names on the lists of suspected war criminals. But then he added that he himself would give them decorations for everything they had done in the war for the defense of Croatia.
The murdered inhabitants of Sisak, however, live in the memories of their loved ones. They have been pleading for justice for years now, for the punishment of the murderers of the innocent. We present a frame from that grim movie.
Making a hole in the window pane, a bullet killed 19 year old Ljubice Solar. It happened on 9/17/91 in Sisak in an apartment on the Mose Pijade Square, hundred or so meters as a crow flies from the Sisak Police Station. The murderer shot furtively, from the darkness. Many facts point out that the shot came from the Police Station window
The curfew had just been introduced in Sisak. Ljubica had just come back from an evening out with a girlfriend and was alone in the apartment. Her boyfriend, Dusko Malovic, also her apartment mate and intended future husband, had left that morning for Sarajevo. The intent behind his journey was to find the apartment for the two of them in Sarajevo. They had actually decided to leave Sisak and move to Sarajevo.
The day before, Ljubica had written in her diary:``Crazy things are happening - war between the Croats and JNA, Serbs in Croatia. People are fleeing from the totally destroyed villages. People are left without their houses, property, livestock; they are loosing everything. They are all scared. The worst thing is the ever larger hatred. I am afraid - for father,mother, uncle, auntie - all my cousins in Glina. Only now I realize how much I love this city and how difficult it is to part with it. I suddenly love its people as well. I do not have a desire to leave. I am afraid of the life there! What will it be like? How shall I get over leaving my mother? I hate everything that is happening! I hate it! Maja is leaving tomorrow for Slovenia and Sanja too; Sinki is gone, Plamenko and Ljubisa; everyone has suddenly disappeared! I have just talked to Maja and Sanja. They were crying... I UNDERSTAND THEM. (signed: Ljubica) Dad, please forgive me for everything I have done to you! Forgive me for being so hard towards you! I love you, I really love you. Remember that for all times! Mother, forgive me for leaving when it is most difficult and for going away for a long time. Please UNDERSTAND, I am leaving looking for a better life, searching for happiness. Pray that I find it!"
Ljubica had talked to her mother Vjera earlier on the evening she was murdered; her mother tried to talk her into coming over to her parent's house instead of spending the night on her own in the apartment. In the end Ljubica stayed in the apartment and her mother was supposed to pick her up the following morning with a car and take her to the house. When the mother, Vjera, phoned the following morning, the receiver was picked up by policemen who, after she had told them she was looking for her daughter, presently arrived to her house. The policemen told her that ``nothing terrible" had happened to her daughter. She was asked to follow them to the Sisak Hospital, with a neighbor, if one happened to be around.
``One of the two policemen went to get my neighbor. She came crying and I knew then that something terrible had happened. But I did not think Ljubica was dead. I thought maybe she was wounded or something like that. The policemen drove us to the hospital and left. There, my colleagues from the Surgical Department, where I have worked for 34 years, gathered around and wanted to give me an injection, which I refused. They took the neighbor to the morgue to confirm that the body was Ljubica's... She came to the door crying:``Oh, Vjera, it is your Ljubica .." Then I went there .. I do not know how I returned home ... A man gave me a lift, since the policemen had left. To this day I do not know why my child was murdered and who killed her, but I saw from the death certificate that was killed on 9/17 at 11:00 pm, right at the curfew's start."
Ljubica Solar was born in Sisak on 5/10/72. After three years of high school she decided to transfer to a school for beauticians. She tried the one in Zagreb, but since they could not transfer her high school credits, she went to live with her uncle in Zemun and there finished the final year of the beauty school. After completed internship she returned to Sisak in July of 1991. Her boyfriend Dusko Malovic was a member of ex-JNA[Yugoslav Peoples Army]. In March of 1991 he left JNA and since he had been more than successful in full-contact ( he had some international trophies), worked as a body guard on Tatjana Matejas Tajci's concerts and as a bouncer in night clubs. After Ljubica's return from Zemun, they lived in an apartment owned by the ex-JNA, for which Dusan had residence rights. Dusko Malovic found out about Ljubica's death on his way to Sarajevo. At first he wanted to return to Sisak for her funeral. He was convinced to stay away as he might have been in danger as well. He died later in the war in Bosnia and Hercegovina.
Funeral Under Guard
Ljubica's father Jovo, a Serb from Banija region, and his son Doko left Sisak that summer. Why did they leave?
``Actually, we still did not know anything, only that people had been disappearing. Oljaca was killed, then Crnobrnja, Vila family... You know, we heard stories, that people were disappearing and that their corpses would be later found floating in Sava; we thought, let the men go, and we women will stay because nobody would touch us. Therefore, my husband at the end of July went to Zemun and son at the beginning of August to Germany; he would have ended up at the front if he had gone to Zemun, which we did not want. At first he [son] did not want to leave Sisak. I insisted every day: ``Doko, c'mon, you have an aunt in Germany, go there, you know I always worry if you will return safely when you go out after dark; I do not sleep until you come back." He left and later told me that several times, when he was returning late in the evening from the city center, he was stopped, up there on the hill, by his ex-classmates and searched for guns. They used to spend days in my house drinking and eating, during weekends... But I was not afraid for the little one... She was such a good child. Dusko was her first boyfriend. She did not go out before that."
Vjera Solar is a Croat. Her mother, a Croat from Boka Kotorska died died during the WWII, and father Josip Braun, a domobran sergeant perished while demining a bridge connecting two sides of Sisak close to the end of the war, in order to stop the Germans from blowing it up during their withdrawal from Yugoslavia. Vjera says:``See, even my son married a Croat woman in Germany last year, Janko Bobetko's cousin. And my daughter was murdered by my Croats. She was buried on Saturday 9/20. Our house was under guard. They were probably waiting to see if her father or brother would show up. The cemetery was also under guard. I was not aware of that, but the others have told me. The police came immediately after the funeral, around 11 o'clock in a Mercedes and took me to the Police Station. I was there until 2. My friends were waiting back in the house. The policemen wanted to know were my husband was, where my son was. I even gave them their phone numbers. I was interrogated two more times. At the beginning of '92 and once more."
Life With Brodarac
Nobody ever contacted Vjera Solar about her daughter's murder. She tried to get some information on her own. She went several times to Duro Brodarac, now the Zupan [Governor] and then the Sisak Police Chief. By the way, Brodarac used to be, until he moved to the city center in 1991, Solar's neighbor, third house from theirs.
``I went to Brodarac. He told me:``Nobody killed her, her boyfriend killed her." I told him:``You are wrong. He could not have killed her. He was on the road then." I did not understand immediately. Later I realized that Ljubica was killed because of her boyfriend. I came to that conclusion and understood why he had been telling me that Dusan had killed her although he [Dusan] had not been there. I still analyze that.. Three and a half years have gone and I still think about the same thing... Who had the right to kill my child? Who had the right? I said that I would not rest in peace until I found out who and why murdered my child. I had my child because I wanted to. When I gave birth to a daughter I was overjoyed... Only to have her murdered nineteen years later... She was allowed to live as long as they gave her... And that was it... That is terrible. I do not care about my life, it does not mean anything to me. I have been alone for four years. I have been fighting all the time. There were provocations. I would get phone calls asking if my house were still in one peace. Why would not have it been? It only stopped after I protested at the local Command."
Vjera Solar tried to find out more through the attorney Silvije Degen's office, Croatian Helsinki Committee, Serb Democratic Forum. But she found out nothing; no one could help her. Duro Brodarac only allowed one visit to the apartment in which her daughter had been murdered.
``I told him that I still had not been to the apartment to pick up her things, and that I had heard a policeman had moved in to the apartment. He told me that I could go and pick up Ljubica's things. The policeman in the apartment was a nice man. He told me to take Ljubica's things. However, I was not allowed to take anything belonging to her boyfriend. The policeman even helped me carry her things to the car. I did not have any problems with him. He even told me he would rather not be in the apartment. I was in the apartment a month after Ljubica's murder; everything was still bloody. The floor was bloody... Even the door was still bloody... I suppose because my poor child had tried to open it... It had not been washed... The bullet hole was still in the window pane... Through which she had been killed... And my daughter, when she was three, used to sleep with Brodarac's daughter. She changed her diapers, fed her, had been to their house so many times. I showed him a photograph of my dead child. And he told me:``I have seen worse." What could had he seen worse than that? Only if his own child had been murdered like that."
Even the organizations and individuals outside Sisak, whose help Vjera Solar sought, could not help. A car with documents about Ljubica Solar's murder, belonging to Croatian Helsinki Committee, was stolen. At the Sisak Police Station, it was suggested to their co-worker inquiring about the case, to avoid getting to curious about it.
We found out about the existence of the two theories. The first one, originating in the Police, states that an ``unknown person shot at Ljubica Solar from the railroad tracks passing nearby the apartment in which she was killed." The other one, which the majority of our contacts found more believable: that the bullet came from the Police Station, which is also very close to the apartment. We asked Ljubica's mother whether she had heard about these two theories.
A Shot, not a Bullet
``Yes, that is what I have heard. No one told me that officially. Actually I have never been told anything officially! I do not have any papers, nothing!"
``Was the autopsy performed?"
``Yes, it was performed. I was told by a pathologist, Dr. Kovacevic. I met him at the cemetery on Sve Svete in 1991. I had not seen him since my daughter's death. He hugged me and then said:``My Vjera, that is the worst crime I have seen in this war." He said that it had not been a bullet but a shot. The intention was to kill her. It ripped everything inside her... I say, I do not want to believe that the Croatian authorities allow these things to take place. But they have not done anything against it. That is the saddest thing of all. I cannot believe in the existence of authorities which would allow that people are killed in such a way. My child did no harm to anyone..."
Testifying at the trial of two Croatian ex policemen charged with war crimes against Serbs in Sisak, a mother recalled her futile search for truth about her daughter’s murder.
Former Croatian police commander Vladimir Milankovic was jailed for eight years for war crimes that led to the deaths of 24 Serb civilians in Sisak in 1991 and 1992.