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Wartime Killing Of Muslims Commemorated In Belgrade

Activists in downtown Belgrade commemorating the 1993 killings.

Several dozen activists on February 27 assembled in downtown Belgrade to commemorate 27 years since 20 mostly Muslim men were tortured and killed by Serbian paramilitaries after being removed from a train during the 1990s war in neighboring Bosnia-Herzegovina.

The incident started at the Strpci train station near the border with Bosnia on February 27, 1993. Armed Serbs stopped a train there and took 20 passengers, mostly Muslims, and brought the men to Visegrad in eastern Bosnia, where they tortured and killed all of them, dumping their bodies in the Drina river.

All the victims were from the Muslim-dominated Sandzak area in western Serbia, which borders Bosnia.

Activists in the Serbian capital symbolically assembled at 3:48 p.m., the time when the train was halted.

They stood in silence, holding banners with the victims’ names and leaflets that resemble train tickets.

Court proceedings for the war crimes are ongoing both in Serbia, involving five suspects, and Bosnia, against 10 suspects.

A total of 16 suspected members of the paramilitary group were arrested in 2014 in Republika Srpska, the Bosnia Serb entity in Bosnia-Herzegovina, and in Serbia proper.

Eleven have gone on trial in Sarajevo, one of whom pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 5 years in prison in 2016 after reaching a deal with the prosecutors.

Another member of the group was sentenced to 15 years in prison in 2002 by a court in nearby Montenegro.

The remains of only four victims have been found to date.

In 2009, the group's leader, Bosnian Serb Milan Lukic, was sentenced to life in prison by a UN tribunal for war crimes during Bosnia's 1992-1995 conflict.

He was never charged over the Strpci massacre, but his brother, Gojko Lukic, figures among the five recently accused.

Bosnia's 1992-1995 war claimed around 100,000 lives.