In 1992, Esad Tufekcic lost his wife, five-year-old daughter and two-year-old son when they were burned alive as part of an ethnic cleansing operation in the Bosnian town of Visegrad. Now, after thirty years, he told N1 his only wish is to find their remains so they can be laid to rest with dignity.
Tufekcic lost his family in the ‘Bikavac fire’ on June 27, 1992, when 72 Bosniak civilians were burned alive in a house in the eastern town as part of an ethnic cleansing operation by Bosnian Serb forces.
Families of the victims gathered on Saturday to pay their respects to the civilians who were killed in the massacre.
Tufekcic also lost his mother-in-law in the fire, while his sister-in-law managed to escape and would later testify about it at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY).
“The month of June 1992 is one of the bloodiest months, a crime took place in the Pionirska street and in Bikavac. In those two crimes, over 140 women and children were burned, including my entire family,” he told N1.
He explained that the perpetrators tried to cover up the crime and ordered that all the remains of the victims be removed from the site.
“So, even after 30 years, we haven’t found a single bone. I appeal to those who know about this to make it easier for themselves and for us and to tell us where the remains of our loved ones are so that we can bury them with dignity. That is my only wish for life,” he said.
So far, 18 people have been convicted of crimes committed in Visegrad and three of them before the Hague tribunal. Prison sentences totalling 247 years were handed down so far and Milan Lukic, who was caught in Argentina in 2005, was sentenced to life in prison.
Milorad Djuricic and Vukadin Spasojevic are currently being tried before the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina for war crimes against the non-Serb population in the Visegrad area.