Demonstrations for David Dragičević end with arrests in Banja Luka main square

Republika Srpska police officers arrested on Tuesday morning Davor Dragičević, father of brutally killed 21-year old David Dragičević, and his ex-wife Suzana, David mother, with the accusation of “violence against public safety”.

The arrests was just an introduction in the bigger police operation aimed to clean the Banja Luka main square from pictures, candles and other memorabilia set by Davor and his supporters, marking the place where, supposedly, David was seen last time alive, in March this year. The safety cam recording show David with some persons and then he missed. Police, family and friends were searching David for six days and the body was found on the bank of river Crkvena. It was obvious that he was killed, but police organized a press conference to explain that the young man was under the influence of drugs and had robbed one house. Then, according to the police, he jumped or fell down in the Crkvena River.

His father Davor questioned this claim and began a strike on the main square. More and more supporters gathered on the place and his fight for the truth about his son’s death was raised as a political question. Davor accused the top police authorities, Minister of Interior, Dragan Lukač, police director, Darko Ćulum, several police inspectors and high ranked politicians, including RS president in the time, Milorad Dodik, of a conspiracy aimed to kill David. For more than 270 days, Davor and his supporters gathered on the square every afternoon demanding the apprehension of the persons that Davor consider killers and accomplices in this case. Opposition parties tried to take advantage of the situation, but it did not help them to win the October General Elections.

In fact, after the elections, the number of those who gather at the square, renamed by Davor in “David Dragičević square”, grew smaller every night. Davor raised the issue of his son on the higher level, explaining to foreign ambassadors that the Republika Srpska top officials are responsible for the death of his son. In three occasions he gathered remarkable number of supporters on the square and threatened that he will take justice in his own hands in April next year, on the first anniversary of David funeral. He also threatened that he will go in the “final clash” with the “murderers and accomplices”. Police accused him of being a threat to public safety and called him on a hearing, but he refused to turn out. Subsequently, police officers arrested him and this triggered the rest of the operation.

As soon as the Police Special Forces appeared at the square, it was obvious that it was a well-organized police operation. Citizen gathered on the square tried to break the police cordon, but without success. Several violent incidents occurred and several citizens were arrested. Among them were opposition Party of Democratic Progress leaders, Branislav Borenović and Draško Stanivuković, former MP Adam Šukalo and a few other persons.

Under police protection, workers disassembled the place of all memorabilia and took all items to the truck. The police operation did not leave anybody indifferent. Some citizens said that it was time to remove the “David altar” from the square because this public place cannot be occupied for the interests of one family, even if their son was murdered.

“Davor blocked the main city square for too long. Every afternoon they gather here and anybody who doubts their activities was declared as enemy”, said one of those who did not support Davor.

The Europea Union Delegation to BiH expressed the deep concern about the events in Banja Luka.

“The European Union Delegation and the Office of the EU Special Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina is deeply concerned with the situation in Banja Luka since this morning. We have asked the RS Ministry of Interior for an immediate explanation of the ongoing arrests of different persons associated with the “Justice for David” movement, including Davor Dragičević, as well as opposition politicians. We are following the developments closely in Banja Luka and urge everyone to stay calm and refrain from violence.

Ambassador Lars Gunnar Wigemark and Ambassadors of all EU Member States present in Bosnia and Herzegovina recently met with Davor Dragičević and Muriz Memić. We commend their tireless efforts to peacefully seek out justice for the deaths of their sons. It is striking that two fathers in search of justice for their dead sons have mobilized more outcry against the lack of rule of law and impunity in BiH than any political party has managed to do.

Today’s turn of events in Banja Luka sends a negative and alarming signal about the state of rule of law in BIH. We will continue to follow the events very closely and urge all to stay calm”, says the EU Delegation in the press release.

Members of the group “Justice for David” announced that they will continue to gather at the same place every night. Their fight continues despite the police threats./IBNA