IN THE HELL OF SKENDERIJA

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Original text: https://www.bunarblog.com/u-paklu-skenderije/
Author: Željko Pantelić-Bunar
Translator: Neven Djenadija

 

The phone rang in the office on the ground floor of Sarajevo Military Hospital’s annex just before 13:00h on 02/05/1992. Even before he picked up the phone, 1st Class Captain[1] Marko Labudović knew who was calling.
“Halo,” he said anxiously.
“General Kukanjac, “a voice from the other side introduced itself.
“Yes, please, comrade General, Captain Labudović [speaking].”
“Labudović, Šuput and his men were ambushed somewhere near Dom JNA[2]. Form a group and go to help him, and pull out wounded and dead. IMMEDIATELY!”
He looked towards sabotage unit commanding officers that he commanded. They were sitting around a table in silence watching at “Motorola”[3] on the table. From it they could hear cries of their colleagues from the ambushed unit.
“Comrade General, I cannot carry out that order. I have no means to carry it out. We only have two Pinc[4], and I can’t leave the hospital without guard.”
“Listen, soldiers and officers are dying there! Do you understand-DYING! Form a group urgently and go!”
“Where should I go? You know that the whole city is blocked, do you want them to practice shooting at us?”
“I will call Ganić and Delimustafić to let pass the convoy.”
“No one can guarantee you passing when they shoot from every window.”
“It’s a war captain, WAR, can you understand that? Execute the order!”

Marko Labudović was a brave man, which he proved several times, but the decision he had to make had nothing to do with courage. In Croatia, he already had experience with refusing orders to superiors who sent his unit on various impossible missions, not knowing what the unit was intended for, so he could easily refuse that order from Gen. Kukanjac. However, the regiment commander, Colonel Šuput, was not only Labudović’s first superior, but also a good friend, since when he took over the duty of DOd[5] commander a few years earlier. He looked at his elders and saw in their eyes support for the decision, which was not realistic, but he did not want to refuse the order and stay to listen to the calls for help. With a curse, he hung up with Gen. Kukanjac, the decision was made.
“Those who are on duty should stay, all the others immediately to line up outside with the equipment,” he ordered present officers.
At the moment he became sorry that his colleagues persuaded him to withdraw the request written a few months earlier for discharge from the JNA.

The officers called an alert for their soldiers. Part of the soldiers, who were in a canteen on the hospital’s fourth floor, was asked by Muslim hospital staff, “Aren’t you going on a mission?” Soldiers looked at each other, wondering how the staff knew about the task before them.

In a few minutes, thirteen people in bulletproof vests without protective plates were lined up in front of the annex in Military Hospital’s yard. They were waiting for a Soldier Milan Pejić, the driver who was in charge of one those two Pinzgauers in the garage. At that moment he was in the main building on the 13th floor. He arrived and got into the line with his beret. Soldier Dragoslav Nikolić told him to go and get a helmet. Captain Labudović addressed the line:
“Soldiers, our comrades from the unit were ambushed. We are going to Dom JNA to pull out wounded and dead. Ambulances with medical staff will follow us. This is a combat mission that I cannot order anyone to go on. If there is someone who does not want to go, let him step forward.” Everyone watched their commander in silence. No one stepped forward.
“Bullet in the barrel and if we are attacked, shoot well.”
Out of all officers from the unit, only Staff Sergeant Perica Dimitrijević with thirteen soldiers remained in the hospital.

In the first Pinzgauer 710 M without tarpaulin, registration plate number P-4319, soldier Pejić who normally drives it, took driver’s seat. Lieutenant Obrad Gvozdenović pulls him out of the cabin and orders him to climb on the body [of the vehicle]. Pejić sat on the bench right behind him. Captain Labudović took a passenger seat. Lieutenant Ivica Cvetković was standing behind the M-84 machine gun placed on the roof of the vehicle. Apart from Pejić on the body were sitting soldiers Branko Popović, Aleksandar Blagojević and Srđan Nikolić.

In the second Pinzgauer, registration plate number P-3535, driver was Lieutenant Nihad Kastrati, co-driver was soldier Kruno Bešlić, behind the machine gun on the roof was Sergeant Dragan Matić, and on the body [of the vehicle] were sitting soldiers Dragan Lazukić, Mladen Nikolić, Dragan Glamočić, Radoš Pajović and Dragoslav Nikolić.

In addition to machine guns with two ammunition boxes of 250 bullets each (a total of 500 bullets) soldiers had personal weapons with one combat set of ammunition – i.e. automatic rifles with two barrels of 75 bullets each, a total of 150 bullets. In the first Pinc there was a box with ammunition for M-84 machine gun and a box of ammunition for automatic rifles, while the soldiers in the second Pinc had “Zolja” hand-held rocket launchers over their backs, a total of five or six pieces. The officers had guns with them. Some of the soldiers had defensive hand grenades M-75, and some gas bombs with tear gas. They were supposed to be used for easier retrieval of wounded, since they calculated that the attackers did not have protective masks. It was a weapon with which fifteen members of the sabotage unit set out on a mission.

They went out to the side entrance, drove around the hospital and came to the main entrance where Military Hospital staff was waiting in ambulance vehicles. They were in white and unarmed. “Citroen” ambulances were clearly marked with ambulance signs; they also had a rotation and sirens on the roof.

A convoy of four vehicles departed the main entrance on Kranjčevićeva Street and went out to Hamze Hume Street. Gvozdenović drove fast, hurrying to reach the wounded as soon as possible. Arriving at Skenderija, in the middle of the crossroads, a black BMW of Sarajevo criminal Juka Prazina was waiting for them. It had a lit rotation on the roof. The same one that saboteurs asked to shoot due to daily provocations, but they never received approval from Labudović. A man with a camera was sitting in passenger seat, recording convoy’s arrival. The street to the right towards the Assembly of BiH[6] was closed with traffic spikes. On the street was an obstructed truck “Tamić”[7] and a Volkswagen Jet with all four indicators on. When the convoy entered the crossroads at Skenderija, the BMW moved back to Save Kovačevića Street (now Reisa Džemaludina Čauševića [street]), turned into the street and swung its rear end behind the building in Miss Irbijeva Street, while the front end remained protruding. There were three empty trams on the tram rails in Obala Vojvode Stepe Street.

When the first Pinc came up against the second tram, a shot rang out. Gvozdenović was killed from the building on the corner of Obala Vojvode Stepe and Save Kovačevića streets, after which Pinc was left without control, turned off, swayed to the left and almost overturned. At that moment, a man with a hand launcher on his shoulder shows up in front of the building, aiming at Pinc. Lieutenant Cvetković eliminated him with a burst from a machine gun. Labudović jumped out in front of the vehicle and waved his arms to [signalize to] stop the firing. He turns towards the first Pinc and soldiers clearly hear the command “Stop firing!” Cvetković stops firing. Labudović walks down the street for about ten meters with his arms raised, waving crosswise towards the building shouting “Don’t shoot!” Then the first bullet hits him and he falls. From the roof Cvetković started firing at the building, while from that building opposite the park and the building on the corner of Vaster Peril Street in the classic “horseshoe”, began a crossfire on the convoy from all weapons. Sergeant Matić issues the order “Attack on a vehicle!” and soldiers jumped out of second Pinc. Some explosive device hits the first Pinc in the lower right part of the cabin where Labudović was sitting a few seconds prior to it. Soldiers, already wounded in the vehicle, jump out and lie down under the tram, while Cvetković and Pejić remain on the body [of the vehicle]. Pejić shoots up BMW. From the other Pinc, Matić shoots at the building opposite the park in Miss Irbijina Street. Labudović manages to get up and shouts “Don’t shoot!” again, but they hit him again. He retreats between trams towards Miljacka concrete embankment.

Dragoslav Nikolić and Radoš Pajević were the first to jump off the second Pinc. Both are immediately wounded. Dragoslav received a bullet through his leg and fell over the driver of the first ambulance who is moaning that he was wounded. As he shoots over him, protecting him, he tells him, “Brother and I am, shut up and retreat.” The driver of the second ambulance, who was a civilian, jumped out of the vehicle, descended behind the tram along the concrete embankment to Miljacka, where the wounded soldier-driver of the first ambulance somehow managed to crawl in. There, on the embankment, soldier is killed from buildings on the opposite side of the river. The other driver runs along the riverbed towards the “Ajfel” Bridge[8]. He tries to climb the street near the bridge and is captured by Muslim forces.

Lieutenant Kastrati runs across the park with only a gun and crosses “Koševski” creek, while Matić and the others support him. He runs under fire across Hamze Hume Street, and near the building on the corner of Valtera Perića Street he comes to Ismet Bajramović-Ćelo, the commander of the Muslim forces Military Police. According to one version he had a gun pointed at him, and according to another he did not even take the gun out of its holster, but came to negotiate. In both versions, he asked Ćelo to order his men to stop firing and allow the group to return to the Military Hospital. In both versions, they kill him from behind.

Cvetković heroically continues to try to defend the group from Pinc. He happened to be in the Military Hospital that day quite by accident, because he could not return to Lukavica where he was on assignment the previous afternoon due to the attack of Muslim forces on the hospital.

From another machine gun Matić fires whole ammunition box and then they hit him in the hip. He falls on the [vehicle’s] body and seeing that his soldiers were wounded, he shouts from the body, “Surrender, don’t shoot.” It seems to him that at his shouts, Muslims are firing even harder. He moves across the side of the vehicle to the street. The machine gun was taken over by soldier Mladen Nikolić, a giant from Maglaj, who was called Mrko by his unit comrades. Out of all weapons Mladen liked the M-84 machine gun the most. On one occasion when they were being shot at in the Military Hospital for days by snipers from buildings called Momo and Uzeir, he took a machine gun, put together cartridge belts and fired up all the floors from where they fired at the hospital. TV Sarajevo, as always at the time, “objectively” reported that the saboteurs had attacked civilian buildings and that there were dead. Now he shoots at the building opposite the park from where they shoot from every window at them.

Mladen Nikolić and Kruno Bešlić from Zavidovići went to the same school, so they knew each other even before the army. They lie wounded side by side on the Sarajevo asphalt. When the protective regiment, which included the sabotage unit, was relocated from Zagreb to Slunj[9] in the fall of 1991, Kruno’s father came to visit him. He was trying to peruse him to leave the unit and go home with him. Kruno refused and said that he would stay with his comrades until he served his military service. On that occasion, his father, a Croat, told him that he would pay someone to kill him if he remained in JNA. After his father left officers found Kruno with tears in his eyes. They told him he could go home if he was sorry that he stayed. Kruno replied that he was not sorry for the decision, but was afraid that his father would do some harm to his mother who was a Serb. He curses their Muslim mothers all the time while he is shooting.

Although wounded multiple times, all soldiers fight heroically. Radoš Pajović left without ammunition, takes “Zolja” off his shoulders. He gets up to take a better position, while Dragoslav shouts not to get up. He fires a rocket at the machine gun nest in the building on the corner, and the next moment he is fatally shot. Labudović crawls towards the “Ajfel” Bridge. The fire starts from the opposite bank, from “Skenderija” hall[10].

Cvetković is left without ammunition on the machine gun. He and Pejić jump from Pinc and lie down next to the other soldiers. Branko Popović was killed, Aleksandar Blagojević was seriously wounded, Srđan Nikolić fought heroically. According to VES[11] Blagojević is a driver. He also served his military service and an extension of three months but due to the situation in Sarajevo he could not go home. He could get out of the line and not go on a mission, no one would blame him for that, but he didn’t, he stayed with his friends until the last moment.

Lazukić does not hear the machine gun next to him. He turns and sees Mladen lying on his back. He shakes it: “Mrko, Mrko, are you alive?” Mladen’s lifeless eyes were fixed on the sky.

Something hits Pejić in the helmet. He thought it was a bullet but he realises that Cvetković is hitting him with his hand because he did not hear him. He asks him: “Boy, do you have anything?” thinking of ammunition. Pejić wants to give him two frames from an automatic rifle that he kept in the side pocket of his pants, but he sees that a bullet hit there and that his frames fell apart and bullets fell out. “I have nothing,” he replies. He had a couple of boxes of bullets for an automatic rifle in bulk, but no one had time to refill their rifles and drums under so much fire. One by one, saboteurs are left without ammunition. Cvetković pulls out a gun and shoots until the last bullet. Pejić asks him “What should we do, comrade Lieutenant?” Seeing that there was no answer, he turned and saw his commander lying as blood was flowing from his forehead across his face. He crawls under the tram and finds shelter behind one of the two newsagents on the banks of Miljacka.

After about fifteen minutes saboteurs stopped firing because they had no ammunition. Wounded ones were [further] killed one by one as if it was a shooting range. Somewhere near the bridge Labudović shouted again, “Don’t shoot, we surrender!” to which Muslims fired from all calibers even harder. Because they also fired armored and marking bullets, the fire was so great that vehicles and trams started to burn. Seeing that Muslims will not accept the surrender, Labudović asked via “Motorola” for help. He calls the 2nd VO[12] Command, the Military Police from “Viktor Bubanj” barracks, he asks UNPROFOR to come, and calls for help anyone who hears his messages. He fights as hard as he can, firing his gun to keep them from approaching him.

Lazukić throws rifles without ammunition into burning Pinc so that they do not remain with the enemy. While the fire is burning in the tram above them, Lazukić and Matić crawling backwards start retreating towards the bridge on Skenderija. As soon as they moved away from the tram, on Hamza Hume Street, from where they themselves came, a truck came at full speed. They were shooting at them from it. They shoot both of them again, this time Matić through the stomach. Lazukić manages to take his “Zolja” off his shoulder, shoots the truck and manages to stop it. Dragoslav also arrives and together with Lazukić, crawling, drag Matić to the side of the bridge while bullets ricochet all around them. Glamočić went out towards the river under the burning tram and started crawling towards Labudović with a hole in his lungs.

Due to the fire that engulfed the installation, the first Pinc started and moves a few meters. Gvozdenović’s lifeless body falls out of the burning vehicle. The ammunition on the vehicle also caught fire and begins to activate. Muslims think that saboteurs are firing and intensifying fire from all calibers. Mortar grenades are starting to fall around the tram. A rocket hits the newsagent behind whom Pejić is, and he flies a few meters through the air. All disoriented and wounded by shrapnel he returns to what is left of the newsagent. Vehicles and trams are burning, and bodies below them.

On the opposite side of Miljacka one of the three tanks appears, which, again without any logic, Gen. Kukanjac ordered to Gen. Đurđevac to send from Lukavica to help saboteurs in the process of evacuation. However, out of those three tanks, sent without any support, only one managed through to Skenderija. It shoots from the right bank towards the buildings from where they were shooting at the saboteurs. Matić raises his hand and waves towards the tank so that they can see them, and then a sniper hits him in the left temple. The bullet comes out through the oral cavity. Due to the heavy bleeding and pain that he suffered, Lazukić gave him both [his and Matić ‘s ] morphine injection from their medical kits. After ammunition was fired the tank retreated, and then Muslim forces destroyed it with two rockets from RBR “Osa”[13].

Since the 2nd VO Command was also attacked, Kukanjac, in a panic, ordered Military Police in “Viktor Bubanj” barracks to break through by any means with three transporters from Švrakino quarter to Bistrik. That required passing from one side of the city to the other. Officers and soldiers managed to reach Skenderija by clearing barricades in front of them with one BVP (infantry vehicle-caterpillar) and two BOVs (armored combat vehicle-wheel). However, when the first BOV and BVP crossed the bridge and turned into Dobrovoljačka Street towards Bistrik, the commander of the second BOV saw Matić, Lazukić and Nikolić lying covered with blood on the asphalt. Instead of turning to Dobrovoljačka, he turns to the bridge where under heavy fire the crew manages to drag these three into the transporter. Pejić sees how his friends are being pulled out, but due to fire [shooting], he cannot reach the transporter. As soon as the BOV started moving a grenade fell next to it, and almost overturned it. Under the rain of bullets, from which it seemed that BOV’s armor is smoking, the crew managed to bring wounded to Military Hospital. While they were taken out of the transporter on mobile stretchers, fire was opened from surrounding buildings, so that medical staff that went to help them was almost killed.

Several hours passed when vehicles burned down. Muslims stopped firing because they saw that there was no answer for a long time. Then suddenly, somewhere near the building on the corner of Vaster Peril Street, a figure in civilian clothes appeared. Dressed in jeans and a jacket, with an automatic rifle he was running towards Branko Radičević Street (now Hiseta). Two men ran out of the building and, firing their rifles at him, shot him in the back. Pejić watches as the body of the murdered person falls in front of Jeta whose indicators were still on. He throws scattered bullets and bombs from bulletproof vests in Miljacka. His left arm is so bruised that he cannot use it.
                                                                             Second Pinc and first ambulance

Glamočić can’t breathe because of the wound on his lungs. Dehydrated, he takes off his armor and equipment, wanting to turn over into the Miljacka riverbed. Labudović asks him what he is doing. He tells him that he will not die thirsty and that he will throw himself into the river to drink water. Labudović talks him out and tells him that someone will come to save them as well. Glamočić gives up and remains lying down.

A man in civilian clothes cautiously peeks between the trams. Pejić raises his hand and tells him that he is wounded, begging him to save him. At that, he took out a gun and shot at Pejić from a few meters away. One bullet. Second. Third. Fourth. All misses target, but the fifth hits him in the back. He moans in pain, while the man with the gun quickly runs away the way he came.

After a while, an older man comes across the street. He looks at the wreckage that is still smoking. Pejić calls out to him and begs him to save him. The man looks around. He bends down and helps Pejić out on the street. With the last atoms of strength, leaning on the old men, he begins to cross the street. Old man hurries him, “Come on, faster, until they start shooting again, they’ll kill us.”

He does not see that Pejić’s legs and arms are in shrapnel wounds. Only in the left foot, hand-sized shrapnel protrudes through the boot. Somehow they cross the street and come to a building on the corner of Vaster Peril Street. Old man pulls Pejić into the building and lowers him down on stairs. He goes outside to two men with rifles. As soon as these two saw Pejić, they immediately picked him up and dragged him to the wall in Vrazova Street. They cocked and aimed their rifles at him:
“Whose are you?[14] Are you a Chetnik?”
“I’m not.”
“Whose are you? Talk, I am going to kill you!”
“I am one of yours, I am a Yugoslav…”
“If you hadn’t said that, I would kill you like a dog now!”
“Did you shoot with Labudović?” the other is persistent.
“No, I was driving an ambulance, it says in the booklet”- he tells them, handing over the military booklet.
Fortunately for Pejić, only VES 12701- a motor vehicles’ driver was written in the military booklet. At that moment, a gray-haired man appears and tells these two not to touch the soldier. He lifts Pejić off the steps and drags him to “Dom zdravlja”[15]. He hands him over to two women and tells them to take care of him until he returns. Pejić is re-taking conscious in the basement where those to women sheltered him because the entire “Dom zdravlja” is overcrowded with casualties. Those two nurses were Serb women from Serbia, married to Muslims. They told him that no one wanted to donate blood for him, but that was done by Reuters journalists which they video recorded. When the grey man returned, he took Pejić to Golf vehicle and headed towards Koševo hospital. Pejić begged him to take him to Military Hospital, but the man, who introduced himself as Ekrem Lekić, was afraid of being captured. He took him to Koševo hospital. The soldier’s booklet remained with those two who wanted to shoot him.

Labudović was a non-commissioned officer and a professional boxer. They did not allow him to compete, appointing him on duty or as a guard commander when he was supposed to have matches. In spite of those who thought that they could torture lower ranks just because they have some “čvarak”[16] more, he also graduated from the Military Academy and DIF[17]. He was in excellent physical condition and an excellent shooter. Soldiers respected him, and officers in the unit regarded him. After everything that his unit went through in Slovenia and Croatia, disappointed with the betrayal by the military and political leadership, at the beginning of 1992 he wrote a request for discharge from the army. After several days of persuasion by colleagues from the unit, he did not hand his request. Now, lying wounded near the “Ajfel” Bridge, feeling of being betrayed he curses via “Motorola”: [and] Kukanjac and UNPROFOR and Muslims who killed his soldiers, saying that he will not fall into their hands alive. One of his colleagues persuades him to give up his intention to kill himself, to hold out a little longer and that help will arrive, but Labudović said that it was too late for that. Everyone who had “Motorola” at that moment could hear emotional words in which he said goodbye to this world: “Greet my family… take care of them and help them …greet all my friends…tell Kukanjac that we died in vain … and let him destroy Sarajevo because there is no other way with such executioners. ” Glamočić last saw him when he was crawling across the “Ajfel” Bridge to the other side.

Later that evening they captured Glamočić who was only in his underwear and boots. He survived only because he said he was ambulance driver. While they were taking him away, Marko Labudović’s body had been lying motionless on the bridge for a long time.
                             (Image showing the position of both Pinc(s) and the bodies of killed saboteurs)

Milan Pejić who had three bullet wounds and thirteen shrapnel wounds was operated in Koševo hospital without anesthesia while he was screaming in pain. As soon as he regained consciousness and was able to speak, under threat of death, they forced him to state in front of TV Sarajevo camera that saboteurs were the first to shoot. That statement was broadcasted in the evening on the same day. Furthermore it was repeated in informative shows following days for several times.

Second ambulance driver was taken by Muslims to “Zagreb” hotel near Military Hospital where he was beaten all night. Disfigured by beating he was released the next day to return to the hospital in order to intimidate others with [the consequences of] such monstrous behavior.

Dragan Matić with five, Dragan Lazukić with three and Dragoslav Nikolić with four gunshot wounds and who knows how many small shrapnel wounds were taken care of at Sarajevo Military Hospital. During their stay they learned that Gen. Kukanjac asked Ejup Ganić and Alija Delimustafić to let their convoy pass in order to pick up the dead and wounded and that the exact time that convoy had left the hospital was reported by the nurse Sabina Vuk who then left the hospital.

Despite several attempts by JNA to pick up bodies of those killed in Skenderija and surrounding streets, Muslims did not allow it.

The charred bodies were shown for days on all world televisions, mostly with TV Sarajevo comment that saboteurs set out to take over the Assembly of BiH and that people spontaneously organised themselves and defended their sovereignty with hunting weapons. As if such lies were not enough, Captain Miodrag Marković, commander of the anti-terrorist company who was captured in the group that went to unblock “Dom JNA”, was beaten to death and then driven in Pinzgauer and forced to watch them driving over the dead body of Marko Labudović. When finally an agreement was reached on 06/05/ to stop actions and start a joint convoy that would pick up the bodies of the dead, muslims[18] moved bodies from Skenderija to Koševo hospital before the convoy arrived. Despite the agreement they refused to hand over the bodies demanding an exchange for living prisoners. Because of that, relatives of the dead received conflicting information about the fate of their loved ones for days, hoping that they were alive.

Military Hospital was handed over to Muslims on 10/05/1992 when a convoy with casualties and part of the staff accompanied by UNPROFOR finally left the hospital (on 09/05 convoy was returned due to allegedly failed negotiations). Until that date, Staff Sergeant Perica Dimitrijević and thirteen soldiers of the sabotage unit resisted the attacks on the hospital, while at the same time Ejup Ganić stated on TV Sarajevo that “Military hospital is a fierce rebel stronghold with 80-90 special forces.” Saboteurs from Military Hospital were welcomed in Lukavica by General Mladić who congratulated each of them on their courage, telling them that they would avenge their fallen comrades. At the same time General Kukanjac stood disinterestedly on the side and did not even address the saboteurs.

Matić, Lazukić and Nikolić were transferred from Lukavica to Sokolac, and later by helicopter to VMA[19] in Belgrade. On 14/05 there they were taken to the recognition of the bodies of those who arrived from Sarajevo, some of whom were completely charred. On that occasion some officer shows up and told them “to keep their mouths shut and not to tell anyone what they experienced”. Because after twelve days his body was in an extremely bad condition Marko Labudović’s wife later stated that she recognised his husband by the birthmark on his left leg. There were six bullet wounds on hers late husband’s body, one of which was fatal – a gunshot wound through the abdomen that passed through the spleen. It was a shot from close range as the pathologist, Lieutenant Colonel Zoran Stanković, personally told her. The other wounds were on his arms and legs, outside the area covered by the armor. Furthermore, there were no shrapnel wounds so the stories about how Marko Labudović blew himself up with a bomb or how he died from a mortar grenade have nothing to do with the truth.

During Pejić’s stay in Koševo hospital a man, called Mujo by others, from the next door room showed up one day.
“Milanče[20], come to me,” he told him.
“Why?” Pejić asked.
“Come on, come on, I have something to tell you.”
Pejić, although still weak moved to this room, where he [Mujo] told him to lie down in one of the empty beds. It was strange to him, but he obeyed. After a while, two men in white coats showed up. First they entered the room where Pejić was and then Mujo’s room.
“Where is this one?” they asked Mujo about Pejić.
“I don’t know, he’s gone, I guess he was released.”
“And this one, is it ours? “one asked, pointing to Pejić.
“Yes, ours, ours.”
When they turned and left, Mujo turned to Pejić:
“Milanče, I just saved your life.”
He [Mujo] later told him [Milan Pejić] that at the time in the hospital were killed several wounded soldiers.
On 5/12/1992 Pejić was exchanged and transferred to Lukavica, from where he was transported by helicopter to VMA in Belgrade.

Glamočić did not know that Pejić and he had been lying together in Koševo hospital for ten days. On 17/05 during the prisoners’ exchange he accidentally told to captain in charge of the exchange that he was a member of a sabotage unit and that he had been wounded in Skenderija, to which captain quickly added him to the list and pulled him out of the hospital. When he was transported to Sokolac hospital he weighed 48 kilograms.

Epilogue of the massacre in Skenderija on 02/05/1992:
From DOd/65.zmtp were killed:
1. 1st Class Captain Marko Labudović-buried on 16/05/1992 in Belgrade
2. Lt. Ivica Cvetković -buried on 16/05/1992 in Knjaževac
3. Lt. Obrad Gvozdenović – buried on 22/05/1992 in Potkozlovača village on Romania[21]
4. Sold. Branko Popović -buried on 16/05/1992 in Belgrade
5. Sold. Aleksandar Blagojević -buried on 16/05/1992 in Kragujevac
6. Sold. Srđan Nikolić – buried on 16/05/1992 in Pirot
7. Sold. Radoš Pajović -buried on 16/05/1992 in Jarčujak village near Kraljevo
8. Sold. Mladen Nikolic –buried?
9. Lt. Nihad Kastrati is listed as missing because the body was not found
10. Sold. Kruno Bešlić is listed as missing because the body was not found
Three officers from DOd were present at the funeral of Marko Labudović, Ivica Cvetković and Obrad Gvozdenović. No one from the 65th Zmtp or 2nd VO Command attended the funeral, nor did they express their condolences to the families of the victims in any way.

The wounded are:
1. Sgt. Dragan Matić -RVI[22] with 100% bodily injury (TO)
2. Sold. Milan Pejić -RVI first with 90%, then 80%, permanently with 60% TO
3. Sold. Dragan Lazukić -RVI first with 40%, permanently with 30% TO
4. Sold. Dragoslav Nikolić -PVI[23] first with 50%, permanently 30%
5. Sold. Dargan Glamočić -RVI with 80% TO

The following soldiers were also killed in Skenderija that day:
– Sold. Nebojša Bojanić- a driver of the first ambulance from Ribnica near Kraljevo. In the obituary no. 203-346 / 98 issued on 13/04/1998 the date of death is stated as 22/11/1996, and the place of death is Sarajevo. However, only on 24/09/2004 a positive DNA finding in the name of Nebojša Bojanić was submitted to the Commission for Missing Persons of the Republic of Serbia. The family refused to sign identification record. He was exhumed at the Lešće cemetery in Belgrade and the remains were identified on 19/11/2004. (Data obtained from the Republic of Srpska War Crimes Investigation Center)
– Sold. Dragan Vitković
– Sold. Milomir Mojsilović
– Sold. Željko Rakić
For the last three soldiers, I could not find information on the way that they were killed. Mihailo Babović was wounded, and listed as a soldier, but he is probably 2nd ambulance driver that was a civilian serving in the JNA.

I apologize to the victims’ relatives and friends who will read this because of re-calling brutal murders of loved ones, but I thought together with the surviving saboteurs that after 25 years of crime, this story which no one wanted to tell must be told. The story of a state that betrayed its army, and Military’s HQ inability to understand it. The story of heroic resistance of fifteen members of the DOd to a much more powerful enemy (Ekrem Lekić told Milan Pejić that about 2,000 people were waiting for them in an ambush, which is 133: 1 ratio).The story about the friendship and sacrifice among soldiers who died for each other. The story about inhumanity and dishonesty where the dead were killed and humiliated again. The story about the nonsense of the war where a muslim[24] wounds you, a Muslim saves you (the commander of the BOV who evacuated Matić, Lazukić and Nikolić was Staff Sargeant Šaban Hajdarević) and a Muslim operates (a doctor at the Military Hospital). Hence the difference in lowercase and uppercase letters. The story about the lies that have been spread for 25 years about this event.

However, primarily, this is a part of the story about a war crime for which no one was held accountable and in court documents is called “Slučaj Dobrovoljačka”[25].

 

(Illustrations: internet)

 [1] Translator’s note: officer’s rank between Captain and Major
[2] Translator’s note: each town/city in former Yugoslavia had “Dom JNA” – a building owned by JNA where cultural events were held and it was used as an officers/NCOs/soldiers’ mess
[3] Motorola handheld radio / walkie-talkie
[4] Pinzgauer high-mobility all-terrain military utility vehicles / Terrain Vehicle (Puch Pinzgauer)
[5] DOd (short from ,,Diverzantski odred’’)- part of a special unit intended to carry out diversions in enemy’s background, not for frontal combat (diversion detachment).
[6] Bosnia and Herzegovina
[7] Translator’s note: TAM truck brand made in Slovenia, very popular in former SFRJ.
[8] Skenderija Bridge (also called Ajfel or Ajfelov most) is a footbridge
[9] A town in the mountainous part of Central Croatia (Kordun)
[10] Skenderija sport complex
[11] Translator’s note: VES ( vojno evidenciona specijalnost) is a Military Record where is specified someone’s field of expertise while in the army
[12] War area – VO (vojna oblast)
[13] hand-held rocket launcher M-79 Osa
[14] Translator’s note: In the source language dialog is written in the way that suggests that unknown man/men is/are Muslim/s due to characteristic “soft” accent
[15] Translator’s note: community health centre where is unusually A&E and different medical specialists departments
[16] Translator’s note: slang for a higher level of a military rank, ,,some star more’’
[17] University of Sport Science
[18] Translator’s note: intentional small letters in the source language
[19] Military Medical Academy – main military hospital in former SFRJ
[20] Translator’s note: diminutive / affectionate of Milan
[21] mountain in Bosnia and Herzegovina
[22] Disabled War Veteran
[23] Translator’s note: probably a typo, it should be RVI – Disabled War Veteran
[24] Translator’s note: intentional small letters in the source language
[25] Translator’s note : Slučaj Dobrovoljačka – Dobrovoljačka Case – named by Dobrovoljačka street

 


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