Remember meForgot password?
    Log in with Twitter

article imageTension in Bosnia after arrest of leader of Banja Luka protests

By Rusmir SMAJILHODZIC (AFP)     Dec 25, 2018 in World

Tensions rose on Tuesday in a stand-off between Bosnian police and protesters after the arrest of the leader of a movement demonstrating over the unresolved death of his student son in the city of Banja Luka.

Hundreds of people gathered to protest against the arrest of their leader Davor Dragicevic, defying police forces deployed around central square in Banja Luka, the capital of Serb-run Bosnian entity Republika Srpska (RS).

Dragicevic, 49, whose son David died in March, "was arrested after having failed to respond to a police summons," police spokeswoman Marija Markanovic told reporters.

For months, Dragicevic and his ex-wife have accused the authorities in the Bosnian Serb-run region of "killing" their son, a charge officials have denied.

The body of the 21-year-old technology student was found in a stream in March.

Police called his death an accident, but his family suspected foul play, sparking a wave of protests not seen in Bosnia since 2014.

A prosecutor later qualified the death as murder.

- Nightly meetings -

The group "Justice for David", which has been meeting every evening in Banja Luka's central square for nine months now, last week gathered outside the parliament of Republika Srpska without approval by the authorities.

Some 20 protesters, including Dragicevic, were accused by a prosecutor of "threatening the security" of political officials.

Dragicevic was summoned for questioning but refused to report to the police station, the police spokeswoman said.

David was 21 when his body was found in a stream  a case police is now treating as murder
David was 21 when his body was found in a stream, a case police is now treating as murder

His ex-wife, David's mother Suzana Radanovic, and several other group members were also arrested, including opposition party leader Branislav Borenovic and his party's MP Drasko Stanivukovic. They were all accused of "violating public order," police said.

Radanovic was released later on Tuesday and joined the protesters.

According to local media, the demonstrators opposed police removing a "sanctuary" at what has become known as "David's Square" where they have been gathering, bringing flowers and lighting candles every evening.

Police then forced several hundred protesters from the place as well as from a park where they had moved.

The European Union delegation in Bosnia in a statement expressed "deep concern" and "asked the RS Ministry of Interior for an immediate explanation of the ongoing arrests of different persons associated with the 'Justice for David' movement."

Hundreds of protesters rallied in the evening in Bosnian capital Sarajevo and blocked main boulevard in support of the group in Banja Luka, an AFP journalist reported.

Protests "for David" have gradually turned into demonstrations against the rule of Milorad Dodik, a Bosnian Serb strongman whose party won an October election in Republika Srpska.

Since the end of the 1992-1995 war, Bosnia has been composed of two entities -- Serb-run Republika Srpska and the Muslim-Croat Federation -- united by a loose central government.

More about Bosnia, Politics, Police, Social
More news from
Latest News
Top News