Thousands protest in Bosnia over killings of 2 young men

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Thousands of Bosnians demanded Tuesday that authorities find the truth behind the deaths more than two years apart of a Muslim and a Serb, bridging Bosnia’s ethnic divide with a protest calling for an end to alleged government corruption and negligence.

Holding banners reading “Who is protecting the killers?” and “We want the truth,” the protesters in the capital of Sarajevo accused authorities of covering up the killings of David Dragicevic and Dzenan Memic.

Memic, 22, of Sarajevo, died in February 2016 from what prosecutors initially described as intentional homicide, but later treated as the result of a vehicle accident. Two men have been charged with driving the van that hit Memic. His father claims his son was slain deliberately and authorities protected the real killers.

Dragicevic, 21, from Serb-held Banja Luka, was found dead in March. Police said he drowned, but Dragicevic’s father insists his son was beaten and then killed. The father has led weeks of protests in Banja Luka that have challenged the government in the Serb-dominated part of the country.

Authorities in Sarajevo and in Banja Luka have denied the allegations leveled by the grieving men.

Apart from a joint government, Bosnia also has separately governed Serb and Muslim-Croat entities, which were created through a peace agreement that ended the 1992-95 war between Bosnia’s Serbs, Muslims and Croats. Tensions among former war foes persist more than two decades after the conflict that killed 100,000 people and left millions homeless.

Tuesday’s protest brought together people from both Sarajevo and many protesters from Banja Luka, reflecting also popular discontent with low living standards, widespread corruption and ethnic divisions all throughout the Balkan country.

Dragicevic’s father, Davor Dragicevic, told the crowd he would continue organizing demonstrations until his son’s killers are punished.

“Criminals and killers have no faith or nation. They only serve their own interests,” Dragicevic said. “I am here to show my support to all who suffer evil. I will never forgive them for David and Dzenan!”

Memic’s father, Muriz Memic, expressed similar resolve, saying: “I know what happened and they can’t convince me to the contrary.”

“They (authorities) are either incompetent or corrupt. There is no other explanation,” he added.

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