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The Sudden Death Of A Bosnian Prosecutor

Dijana Milic had helped to expose a sex-for-grades scandal at Sarajevo University.
Dijana Milic had helped to expose a sex-for-grades scandal at Sarajevo University.
The sudden death of a maverick 44-year-old Bosnian prosecutor leaves many questions unanswered.

An investigation by Dijana Milic over the last two years had exposed a sex-for-grades scandal at Sarajevo University, which led to the suspension of a faculty dean and three professors and a prison sentence for a driver who arranged sexual favors for passing grades.

But Milic fell seriously ill last month after she was suspended following a dirty media campaign and the launch of an investigation into allegations she forced a witness in the case -- identified by the media as a prostitute -- into giving false statements.

Milic was admitted to a hospital in Bosnia's northern town of Tuzla in mid-July, where doctors diagnosed her with a serious metabolism disorder. Her family said she couldn't sleep or eat because of the accusations against her.

Her health continued to deteriorate. She died on August 5 after suffering a heart attack.

"She fell victim to the things she fought against all her life -- immorality, corruption, and crime," Milic's lawyer, Josip Muselimovic, says.

In a land rife with corruption and organized crime, all of which is impeding its postwar recovery, ethnic reconciliation, and European integration, Milic stood up to confront the long-rumored criminal activities at the Tuzla department of Sarajevo University's law school because fellow prosecutors from the capital could not -- or did not want to -- do it.

But she never received the full support of her colleagues, the media, the nongovernmental sector, or student associations.

"Because of her death, this society, if it's normal, should awaken and realize that the mafia is ready for everything in this country, even to kill an able prosecutor," says Sinan Alic of the Tuzla-based NGO called Truth, Justice, Reconciliation.

"When she was indicted, I said that was the biggest shame for the judiciary. It is shameful that prosecutors and lawyers, her colleagues, remained silent," Alic says. "Not all of them are corrupt. There are many decent men and women. But they all stayed silent. Had they spoken up, Dijana would be alive today and that case would have been brought to an end."

Two professors who gave passing grades in exchange for 500 to 1,000 euros or sexual favors from female students have been banned from lecturing for life by the university's Ethics Committee. The third professor and the dean of the law school have been suspended for two years.

However, it remains unclear whether the professors will be charged by the court now that the prosecutor they feared the most is dead.

Senad Pecanin, a respected journalist and commentator, says he is embittered because most media relied on questionable reporting to swoop in on Milic.

"This is a catastrophic process that Dijana paid for with her life," Pecanin says.

-- reporting by Maja Nikolic, written by Nedim Dervisbegovic

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