The blood of his parents and brother mixed with death dripped on him. That was life getting out of those closest to him, then joined the earth and the endlessness of death. And Petar remains silent and squeezes his eyelids. Because how would Petar of seven years know what death is. So he thinks he is dead too. He is just wondering why he is somewhat differently dead from his parents and brother.
By Dragan Bursac
This article was published in cooperation with European Press Prize.
Do you know who Petar Golubović is? Petar Golubovic is a young man from Konjic. He is thirty-two years old. An exemplary citizen, a dentist. Proud of his father Đura and mother Vlasta, famous teachers at the secondary school. But he is most proud of his brother Pavle. Two years younger, senior lawyer and employee of the Mostar Court.
The Nightmare of the Summer Night
On 2 July 1992, six members of the Special Police Department of the Intervention Centre of the Konjic Public Security Station, somewhere in the middle of the morning, went to the Golubović family home.
Night, fear, agony … the family was violently pushed into two cars. Those two cars – in them the death messengers – reach the police station in the village of Polja Bijela. After talking to the police officer at the checkpoint, the barrier was lifted and the ride continued towards the village of Spiljani.
What’s goes on in the heads of kidnapped people? How can their neighbours wake them in the middle of the night, push them in some car and drive in this dark night? Until yesterday, they were teachers, also teaching their children in Konjic. Who are these militiamen? And what do they want? …
-Why did they hit my dad and push my mom? What is this, the seven-year-old Peter roared on the inside, while clutching the hand of the younger brother Pavle, whose hand had become numb of fear. Five years old, his little brother had totally disconnected from reality.
At a distance of a thousand meters from the checkpoint on its right, at the sinkhole, police officers turned off the lights on the cars except the position lights, and then all came out of the car with a gun. They ordered the members of the Golubović family to leave the car and to line up on the right edge of the road.
– They will surely leave us here. They want us to be terrified. I know this Miralem, he is from Macić, I know Jusuf Potura … I’m not sure about the rest, but Father Duro knows them. He is a teacher at the secondary school, they would just not dare do anything to him … Petar tried to see his brother and parents in the dark. The night spread his pupils, and the fear narrowed them. The tip of his forefinger tapped the sweaty-cold hand of mother Vlasta. At one point, he seemed to have seen some light, then sharp metal sound cut through the night.
When the Golubovic family was lined up, the cops aimed their guns and simultaneously opened a burst of fire.
Peter felt the smell of the earth. Fever was shaking his body as if he were cold. He sensed a weird strange and unknown smell. Some mould and something warm. The blood of his parents and brother mixed with death dripped on him. That was life getting out of those closest to him, then joined the earth and the endlessness of death. And Petar remains silent and squeezes his eyelids. Because how would Petar of seven years know what death is. So he thinks he is dead too. He is just wondering why he is somewhat differently dead from his parents and brother.
By some kind of a miracle it turned out that in this crime-feast, the seven-year-old Petar was the only one who wasn’t shot deadly and remained unharmed. The tiny boy fell on the ground between the bodies of his parents and younger brother Pavel during the burst of fire. When he was sure that the criminals were lost in the dark night, little Petar decided to leave the crime scene, where the motionless bodies of his parents and brother Pavel were lying.
He could no longer keep his eyes closed. And the bodies of his parents and brother became a cold burden of horror, which pinned him to the ground. Deeper and deeper. Like some kind of a weak animal, he wriggled from under the dead, pulled himself up on his trembling feet and watched the dark again. Maybe it’s better this way. Because he did not see death. Strange is the darkness, it helps you to not see death. And then in the corner of his eye he saw light.. Petar came out of the ditch and saw the lights of the police checkpoint. He sniffed. There, there, there is the police, they will save me, and then they will call the hospital to save my mom, my dad, and my brother. Everything is so simple, I was just too scared, thought the boy, blue of fear, death and earth. He started running.
Short of breath and terrified, Petar, under the rush of adrenaline, told officers Hadzhi Macic and Drazen Markovic what had happened to his parents and brother Pavel. In fact, it was more of a confused monologue of hoarse, weeping consonants, which emerged from a terrified child’s throat.
The man on duty at the checkpoint immediately called the police station by radio to tell them he had little Petar with him, and soon afterwards ….
The Second Shooting
Well, these are the same guys. Militia men! They shot at my dad, mom and brother! Why were they not arrested by these guys at the checkpoint? Why are they driving me back down to Konjic? Maybe it’s a mistake again. The child’s brain could not cope with this kind of adrenaline and lost itself in that mouldy, eternally same and never ended night. Never ended …
The policemen stopped at a place called Begin Vir where they took the kid out of the car and spilled fire from the gun in Petar Golubović. The deadly bursts had done their job this time.
Petar will never celebrate his thirty second birthday. Peter will never tell this or any other story. Petar is a boy shot two times, killed once and eternally alive.
Crime, punishment, truth and reconciliation
And there wouldn’t have been this story, had there not been an investigation. You would not know about all the monstrous details and perpetrators, had the court not done their job. And it was done in a grim, weak and inadequate way. So the first accused got 12 years in prison, got out of prison and moved as a free man.
However, it seems that Macić had much more blood on his hands, so he was arrested again in August 2011 for mass crimes against Serbs in the village of Bradina, near Konjic. In the end he died in prison without a verdict and without the truth.
The Ghosts of Konjica
It is therefore good to know that thirteen former members of the Bosnian and Herzegovian Army, the Territorial Defence and the Ministry of Interior (MUP) in Konjic were arrested for crimes against tens of Serbian nationals in Bradina, Konjic and other places.
Criminals and war criminals have their names and surnames
In this particular case, it’s about the suspects for the crimes committed in the spring and summer of 1992 in Konjic and the surrounding area, which resulted in the removal and forced resettlement of almost the entire population of Serbian ethnicity from that area. Among the crimes mentioned are murder, torture, rape, abuse and persecution of victims.
Of their freedom were deprived: Nikšić Šefik, born in 1945 in Konjic; Alikadic Adnan, born in 1962 in Konjic; Pirkić Mitko, born in 1962 in Konjic; Ćosić Safaudin, born in 1974 in Konjic; Cakić Muhamed, born in 1968 in Konjic; Hebibović Ismet, known as “Broćeta”, born in 1956 in Konjic; Balić Redžo, born 20.04.1952. in Konjic; Lukomirak Hamed, born in 1971 in Konjic; Padalović Almir, born in 1968 in Mostar; Jusufbegović Sead, born in 1941 in Konjic; Ćibo Senadin, born in 1967 in Konjic; Ramić Agan, born in 1962 in Konjic; Ramić Esad, born in 1966 in Konjic.
And even after a quarter of a century it’s high time to find out how 240 unfortunate people in the Čelebići camp were tortured – just because they were Serbs-, the way one beautiful city – Konjic was ethnically cleansed, the way 800 Serbs from Bradina disappeared, the way 88 were killed..
Konjic and Konjic people should not have been captives of these janissary commanders. It’s high time for the sake of the truth, justice, God and that boy Petar, – two-times shot, and forever alive -that we all are born again into reconciliation and truth.
Here’s our chance! There has been enough silence!
Photo: Kravice Falls, Bosnia and Herzegovina. – © Mike Norton / FlickrFollow
Al Jazeera Balkans (AJB) is an international news television station headquartered in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina aimed at the media markets of the countries that used to be constituent units of SFR Yugoslavia. It is part of the Al Jazeera Media Network.
Support the exchange of international journalism with a donation of any size
Your support helps protect the storybank, an independent platform which encourages and facilitates the exchange of journalistic publications worldwide. It means a great deal to us if we can, with your help, deliver a fully operating and innovative tool to provide quality journalism for everyone, wherever you are and from wherever the stories come. Support us based on what you feel this article is worth to you.