Wed. Oct 5th, 2022

Nedim Hasic and Vesna Bernardic

Sarajevo, (EFE).- During the siege of Sarajevo (1992-1995), Western and Russian millionaires allegedly paid Bosnian Serb soldiers to shoot civilians from their positions in the city’s hills, a “safari” with game pieces. Human

That’s what Slovenian director Miran Zupancic’s documentary “Sarajevo Safari” maintains, which premiered last night at the Al Jazeera Balkan Documentary Film Festival in the Bosnian capital.

The filmmaker worked to try to shed light on the rumor of “sniper tourism” that has persisted for decades. However, this was never confirmed, which is why the documentary offers so many questions as answers about this alleged practice.

“Sarajevo Safari” talks about how Western and Russian millionaires pay Bosnian Serb soldiers to be able to shoot civilians.

Manhunt in the siege of Sarajevo
A woman runs in front of a bombed-out building in Sarajevo in 1992. EFE/SIPA Press/Tom Haley

“Sarajevo Safari” maintains that the “poachers” are millionaires from the United States, Canada, Russia and Italy – unidentified, who first traveled to Belgrade, the capital of Serbia, then were transferred to Bosnia by Yugoslav Army helicopters or by road. Controlled by Bosnian Serb forces.

Zupancic’s film does not identify the Serbs and Serb military commanders who would allow such activities.

Costliest: infanticide

As with any safari, there were more expensive pieces. According to one witness, “prices were higher if the target was a child”. The documentary does not specify the fees but says they were huge sums.

The witness, whose face has not been shown and whose identity has not been released, confirmed that he had worked as a secret agent for Yugoslavia and the United States in the past. He claims to have witnessed at least seven murders by these snipers.
During the siege, around 6,000 civilians, including over 700 children, were killed in attacks on the city.

Manhunt in the siege of Sarajevo
Photo taken in 1993 of UN trucks evacuating Muslim refugees from the town of Srebrenica. EFE/Str

“I saw how, for certain money, strangers came to shoot at the citizens of besieged Sarajevo.”

Rumors or anti-Serb propaganda?

The Bosnian capital is located in a valley surrounded by hills, from which Bosnian Serb artillery fired and snipers harassed its inhabitants during the 1,425-day siege.

Zupancic, a documentary filmmaker and screenwriter with a long career behind him, explained to IF that he decided to investigate the rumor because it presented “an exceptional professional and moral challenge”, which disrupted his “concept of the world and a new subject”. raised questions. , disturbing and unpleasant”.

Some Serbian and Bosnian Serb media presented the documentary as mere anti-Serb propaganda, although Zupancic defended the validity of his testimony and denied that he intended to “demonize” the Serbs.

“We have recorded testimonials from people we believe. Every person who watches the documentary will decide whether they can believe it or not,” he asserted.

Manhunt in the siege of Sarajevo
Empty streets of Vitez after fighting between Muslims and Croats in 1993. EFE/Cipa Press/Alexandra Bolat

At first he thought it would be easy for him to dispel the “Safari” rumor, but he found the testimony of the witnesses to be credible and resisted all his verification.

Another witness is Edin Subacic, a former army analyst in Bosnia-Herzegovina, who said he heard about the human safari during the interrogation of a prisoner of war, who told him that some Italians had paid to shoot civilians in the city.

The Sarajevo authorities then notified the Italian intelligence service, which several months later confirmed the presence of the Italians and promised that “it will not happen again”.

There are more witnesses, according to Zupancic, but they all backed off when speaking on camera.

Suspicion without evidence in the siege of Sarajevo

Natasa Kandic, head of the Serbian NGO “Fund for Humanitarian Law” in Belgrade, assured Ife that she had never had information about such activities.

Manhunt at the Siege of Sasrajevo
Radovan Karadzic (D) and Ratko Mladic (L) in a 1993 photo. EFE/EPA/STRINGER

Mirsad Tocaca, of the Sarajevo Documentation Center (IDC), for his part said that he only knew of rumors about this kind of “safari”, although he mentioned the Russian author Eduard Limnov.

In the 1992 documentary “Serbian Epic” by Polish Pawel Pawlikowski, Limnov (1943-2020) is seen firing a heavy machine gun in Sarajevo. Nearby was then Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, who is now in prison for war crimes.

Despite the lack of evidence, Fikret Grabovica, president of the “Association of Parents of Children Killed in Besieged Sarajevo,” said there was no doubt that “something terrible could happen” during the siege.

In addition to Karadzic, the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) sentenced Ratko Mladic, a Bosnian Serb military commander, to life in prison for crimes against humanity committed during the siege of Sarajevo.

Web Editing: Nuria Santesteban

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