used without permission, for "fair use" only
Osijek officially silent about liquidations, but the street has been talking for a while that everything about the events in the early 90's "is known"
Bullet In The Head On Shores Of Drava For 100 Defenders And Serbs From Osijek
"The most important thing is that the victims free themselves from fear and speak up. Crime must be prosecuted, for the sake of the European future of this city," Ladislav Bognar says
by Boris PAVELIC
Novi List, Rijeka, Croatia, July 10, 2003
According to unofficial estimates of the Osijek Police, published by the newspapers two years ago, in Osijek, during 1991 and 1992, more than a hundred persons were murdered or disappeared. Since then, no one has effectively [sic] reacted to that information. In the capital of Slavonia, today, after Ladislav Bognar and Vjenceslav Bill again drew attention to those events, media and official sources are continuing their grumpy silence, but the street, on the other hand, and a few courageous victims, are "whispering like thunder".
Milutin Kutlic, Branko Lovric, Dragan Stojic, Bogdan Pocuca, Njegoslav Romic, Ivica Rotim, Zdravko Pokrajac, Djekic... These are the names of some of the victims that our newspaper managed to obtain after a brief and not terribly thorough investigation. Some of them were civilians, but ethnic Serbs, while others were Croat defenders [soldiers], some of them ethnic Croats. Why, how and when exactly they were murdered, no one can say with certainty, but the Police and the state prosecutor are working harder on suppressing information than on reveling new facts. It is especially confusing why Croat defenders were also murdered.
A surviving witness of one of executions in Osijek has publicly testified about his calvary. Today, he allegedly lives on a farm in Serbia and does not want to talk for the media. His name is Radoslav Ratkovic. He is an electrical technician, so that his nickname in Osijek was "Rade the electrician". According to a street, unverified, story (as no official sources about these and similar events exist) in November 1991 he was taken to the bank of the Drava river with a group of people. They were taken to the Winter Harbor [zimska luka], close to the center of the city. This was the time of the worst fighting, a few days after the fall of Vukovar. The perpetrators shot at the captives and killed them all, apart from Ratkovic. Ratkovic was fortunate that the bullets hit him, but did not injure any of the vital organs. Ratkovic fell in the river; several hundred yards downstream he was found by a Croatian army sentry; the soldiers pulled him out of the river and took him to the Osijek hospital. The police allegedly took Ratkovic's statement, but that cannot be verified. Ratkovic recovered in the hospital and was then assisted in crossing the Hungarian border. Several of our sources confirmed that they later watched Ratkovic on the then occupier's TV Beli Manastir testifying about his experiences. His testimony allegedly exists on tape, but we haven't seen the tape.
Civilians whose names we have mentioned were allegedly murdered in the same way. They were taken to the Drava river with hands tied behind their back, and shot with a bullet fired in the back of their head. Some of the bodies haven't been found, but at least one has, that of Njegoslav Romic. His corpse was found with a skull pierced by a bullet and buried in a known location. Only hazy theories exist regarding the murders of Croat defenders. One of them has it that groups or units of defenders engaged in mutual fighting in the chaotic wartime Osijek.
The victims are silent. Only Marija Lovric, wife of missing Branko, has spoken for the media. There are unverified indications that Branko Lovric was murdered after several days spent in captivity, in the group that was executed when Ratkovic was wounded.
"Prosecute Bognar And Bill"
"The most important thing is that the victims free themselves from fear and speak up. Crime must be prosecuted, as that is the only way to make sure this city stops being a twilight zone where crime and lawlessness flourish even today. Mafia that won power through violence during the war remains in power until this day. Its tentacles are still in all the local institutions, from the economy and state administration, over police and courts, to the media. That mafia must be destroyed for the sake of the European future of this city," Ladislav Bognar, SDP representative on the city council, says. Bognar's recent interview again pushed this issue in the limelight.
Branimir Glavas, the man whose name is inseparable from the fate of Osijek in the nineties, would comment on Bognar's assertions only by repeating that he would sue Bognar. "Bognar, as well as Vjenceslav Bill, will get a chance to prove their assertions in court. I will sue them, and then they can prove their assertions as defendants," Glavas says.
He added that "as far as Bognar's statement that mafia rules in Osijek is concerned, let me remind you that the HDZ has never held power in the city". "In the 90s Zlatko Kramaric was the mayor, while during the last three years the Liberal-SDP coalition was in charge".
Translated on February 17, 2004