The 30th anniversary of the martyrdom of 33 Croatian civilians was marked today in Grabovica, between Mostar and Jablanica, with the laying of wreaths and a holy mass, where political, social and religious representatives of Bosnian Croats gathered.
And this anniversary passed without finding out about the fate of 17 people who are still missing.
The commemoration of the crime in Grabovica was also attended by members of the Association of Civilian War Victims of the City of Mostar. Adnin Hasić from this association said that all innocent victims during the Aggression against RBiH should be honored.
In Drežnica, soldiers of the RBiH Army saved the Croats
"Today we are here in Grabovica, we were in Raštani, Trusina, Ahmići, last year we were also in Srebrenica. Grabovica is part of the City of Mostar and we will always be here and anywhere, where the civilians died, to pay our respects so that this evil will never happen again, anywhere," said Hasić.
He said that it is a "civilizational shame" that 30 years after the crime, the remains of the murdered are still being searched for, and he added that for the sake of truth, these processes must be brought to an end.
"Grabovica belongs to the Local Community of Drežnica, and on the other side of the Čvrsnica mountain, members of the RBiH Army defended the lives of their Croat neighbors. In 1993, at the height of the Croat-Bosniac conflict, the elderly Croat residents of Drežnica who remained in their homes asked their neighbors to help them and to transfer them to the territory controlled by the HVO. Those guys then made superhuman efforts and over the Čvrsnica mountain they took a dozen of their older Croat neighbors towards the line under the control of the HVO. I want to say that the crime against Croats in Grabovica was committed by individuals who were not from Grabovica, and on the other side of the mountain in Drežnica, members of the Army took care of their neighbors and fulfilled their request and saved their lives. We should highlight such values and be proud of them, and we should all condemn the criminals," Hasić points out.
Hasić, whose parents were killed in the crime against Bosniaks and Croats in Ubork and Sutina, is one of the few Bosniaks who, by their presence in Grabovica, condemn the crimes committed by members of the RBiH Army against Croats. On the other hand, there are more and more people who warn about the politicization of Croatian victims because the crimes against Croats committed by BiH. Serbs or JNA hardly commemorate.
Crime in peace
Since May 1993, Grabovica was under the control of the RBiH Army, where a part of the Croatian population remained, with whom the local Bosniaks and soldiers lived in peace.
"During the preparation for the operation "Neretva 93", units of the 9th Motorized Brigade of the 1st Corps of the ARBiH from Sarajevo were stationed in the village. Since there were no other accommodation options for the members of the arriving units, they were accommodated in the houses of Croats from Grabovice. Their stay was remembered for the war crime committed against civilians of Croatian nationality, who did not pose a military threat," says Dr. sc. Zilha Mastalić Košuta, senior research associate of the Institute for Research of Crimes Against Humanity and International Law, University of Sarajevo.
According to witness statements, the soldiers who were stationed in Grabovica were not under the adequate supervision of elders, nor did they have sufficient logistical support.
"Members of the 9th mtbr brutally killed 13 Croatian civilians, including a three and a half year old girl, Mladenka Zadro, without any provocation on September 8 and 9, 1993. Her father Mladen, mother Ljubica, grandfather Ivan and grandmother Matija were also killed. Pero, Dragica and Martin Marić, Josip-Jozo Brekalo, Živko and Ljuba Drežnjak, Ivan Mandić and Ilko Miletić were also killed in the village. For the remaining 14 persons who were listed as victims of the crime, in the process conducted before the International Court in The Hague, it was not proven that they were killed in the specified period by members of the 9th mtbr," adds Dr. Mastalić Košuta.
For the crimes in Grabovica, several processes were conducted in domestic and foreign courts.
"The Cantonal Court in Mostar conducted the trial against the perpetrators of the crime in Grabovica and convicted three, and the Cantonal Court in Sarajevo convicted two members of the 9th Mtbr 1st Corps of the ARBiH. Nihad Vlahovljak, Haris Rajkić and Sead Karagić were convicted. All three were sentenced to 13 years in prison before the Cantonal Court in Mostar. Even earlier, before the Cantonal Court in Sarajevo, Enes Šakrak was also sentenced to 10 years in prison. For this crime, the International Court in The Hague tried General Sefer Halilović on command responsibility, however, he was acquitted on all counts of the indictment", explained Dr. sc. Zilha Mastalić Košuta.
Crimes against Croats in Uzdol and Trusina
Two more crimes against Croats took place in the area of Prozor and Konjic, but unlike Grabovica, it was in wartime circumstances.
"Uzdol is a village in the municipality of Prozor where the majority Croatian population lived. In the early morning hours of September 14, 1993, the Independent Prozor Battalion, together with several members of the MUP civilian police, attacked the HVO headquarters, which was located in the school building. During the attack, HVO units were brought into the area, and members of the Independent Prozor Detachment and the MUP committed crimes. Then 25 locals were killed, including children. The youngest victims of this crime were ten-year-old Stjepan and his thirteen-year-old sister Marija Zelić. Twelve-year-old girl Jadranka Zelenika was also killed. The oldest person killed in Uzdol was 87 years old. Some of the inhabitants were killed in their houses, and some of them tried to escape. Acting Enver Buza was sentenced to eight years in prison for the crime in Uzdol according to command responsibility. the commander of the Independent Window Detachment of the ARBiH", adds dr. sc. Zilha Mastalić Košuta.
Trusina is a village in the western part of Konjic.
"Immediately before the crime in Trusina on April 16, 1993, combat operations were conducted between units of the ARBiH and the HVO. After the ARBiH entered the village, they shot 15 Croatian civilians and seven HVO soldiers, who had previously surrendered. For the crime in Trusina, before the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Edin Đeko was sentenced to 13 years in prison, Rasema Handanović to five and a half years, Mensur Memic to ten years, Nedžad Hodžić to 12 and Nihad Bojadžić to 15 years in prison," explains Dr. sc. Zilha Mastalić Košuta.
"Heinous crimes in the villages of Grabovica, Uzdol and Trusina are crimes against the civilian population. The crime committed in the village of Grabovica was committed at a time when there were no combat operations. The crimes in Uzdol and Trusina were committed during combat operations, which makes a difference with the crime in the village of Grabovica. All three crimes are a shameful act and a disgrace to the reputation of the RBiH Army during the period of aggression against the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1992-1995. which were inflicted by individuals from their ranks", concludes dr. sc. Zilha Mastalić Košuta.