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A Bosnian Man's Lonely Stand To Find The Bones Of His Son


"I will not leave this place without his bones unless they drive me off in a box," says Djemal Hasanovic.

"I will not leave this place without his bones unless they drive me off in a box," says Djemal Hasanovic.

Djemail Hasanovic, a well-dressed, middle-aged man with a determined expression, has set up a bed on the side of the road leading from Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia-Herzegovina, to Podravanje. A sign posted nearby declares he is on a hunger strike.

"This is the place where he died, my son, Dzevad Hasanovic," the man says. "I will not leave this place without his bones unless they drive me off in a box."

Dzevad Hasanovic was killed in the area during Bosnia's bloody war of the mid-1990s. Ten years ago, Djemail Hasanovic began working with the Institute for Missing People in a bid to recover and bury his son's remains.

Sadik Selimovic, an investigator with the institute, tells RFE/RL's Balkan Service that he worked with Hasanovic to follow up on reports about the locations of the bodies of his son and of several others killed in the area between 1993 and 1995.

"Today I found a bone. This made me glad, even if it is not one of my son's. I found a bone, which proves they can be found," says Djemail Hasanovic.

"Today I found a bone. This made me glad, even if it is not one of my son's. I found a bone, which proves they can be found," says Djemail Hasanovic.

"We were digging in four locations, but we had no success," Selimovic says. "We are continuing to study, but often our information is misleading or incomplete."

But Hasanovic is not satisfied.

"I'm frustrated," he says. "Today [September 9] I found a bone. This made me glad, even if it is not one of my son's. I'm glad I did it. I found a bone, which proves they can be found. I'm not an inspector, but I did it for my son."

Hasanovic called Selimovic with his discovery and Selimovic hurried to the scene.

"I came here because I was called. I am not against this family. I am on their side," he says.

Selimovic confirmed that Hasanovic had found human remains and applied to the prosecutor's office for permission to search the area.

When the go-ahead comes, Hasanovic will still be holding his vigil. And he will wait until a DNA analysis confirms his son has been found.

"I don't want just anyone's bones," he says. "I don't want to bury someone who is not my son."

It is estimated that more than 10,000 Bosnians remain missing from the 1992-95 war.

-- Sadik Salimovic, RFE/RL Balkan Service

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Written by RFE/RL editors and correspondents, Transmission serves up news, comment, and the odd silly dictator story. While our primary concern is with foreign policy, Transmission is also a place for the ideas -- some serious, some irreverent -- that bubble up from our bureaus. The name recognizes RFE/RL's role as a surrogate broadcaster to places without free media. You can write us at transmission+rferl.org

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