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Drago Josipovic
Drago Josipovic

Drago Josipovic is a Bosnian Croat who came back to live in his home village Ahmici after serving a twelve year jail sentence handed down in The Hague by the International War Crimes Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) for having participated in the 1993 Ahmici massacre.

Drago Josipovic, a former chemical factory worker and resident of Ahmici-Santici, was found guilty of crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in January 2000. Josipovic had been serving in the regular Bosnian Croatian army (HVO-BiH) and the court found that he was involved in the massacre in Ahmici on 16 April 1993, when in a surprise attack 116 Bosniaks were killed, including 32 women and 11 children.

Drago Josipovic was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment for his part in the killing of fellow resident Musafer Puscul and the burning of the Puscul family home.

Drago Josipovic at ICTY - Drago Josipovic in Ahmici's Catholic cemetery

Josipovic has always denied that he committed war crimes. He maintains that he tried to help Muslim friends that day.

His appeal against his conviction was rejected by the ICTY, though his sentence was reduced to 12 years. After his release in February 2006, Josipovic moved back to his house in Ahmici-Santici. He has never had a problem with any of the villagers since.

"When I came, there were some 2,000 – 3,000 people waiting for me, who knew that I had been innocent, that I was in prison for nothing."

Many Bosniaks from the village think that Josipovic is innocent. A neighbor testified during the trail that Drago Josipovic saved her husband's life and took her and her husband to another house to receive shelter for a night. Mehmed Ahmic, a local café owner, with friends collected signatures supporting Drago Josipovic's claims of innocence. In total 27 Ahmici residents have signed a petition supporting a motion for a review of Josipovic's case. This petition was, however, rejected by ICTY in 2004.

Josipovic says the Bosnian Croat Military Police should be held responsible for the massacre:

"In my view it was the Croat military police. And they are the only ones who can say who gave the order…"

International war crimes investigators have hard tried to pinpoint who was responsible. However, it has been difficult to determine what exactly happened, and to establish beyond reasonable doubt the identity of perpetrators, most of whom were wearing masks.

Josipovic's conviction was based on one single witness statement, underlining the difficulty of establishing the facts after such a horrific event. The sentence of Vlatko Kupreskic, also a Bosnian Croat from Ahmici who has returned to the village, which was also built on a single witness, was later overturned by the ICTY's appeals chamber.

June 2008

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