EXCHANGE OF PRISONERS ON THE BROTHERHOOD AND UNITY BRIDGE// 10. 1994. • AMOR MASOVIC// CHAIRMAN OF THE STATE COMMISSION FOR THE EXCHANGE OF PRISONERS
ORAL HISTORY - INTERVIEW
ORAL HISTORY - TRANSCRIPT
Chairman of the State Commission for the Exchange of Prisoners
EXCHANGE OF PRISONERS ON THE BROTHERHOOD AND UNITY BRIDGE
‘That was the first time I was in a situation where I had to decide on somebody’s life and death. Because we were unable to release all Serb soldiers in Gorazde the Serb side decided on October 5 and 6 to keep 12 people and not release them although their names were on the exchange list. And it fell upon us, actually upon me, to decide which 12 people out of 270 were to be returned to the Serb prisons in Foca, Kula and Rogatica. It was very, very difficult to make such a decision. We had held negotiations about those people for about a year, in some cases for two years. We knew those people inside out, so to say, the members of their families. Whoever we returned we would have to explain some day to the members of their families why I made the decision to return him of all the people to the Serb prison. Then I applied a criterion, which I wasn’t sure that was the best one. Well, where two members of the same family were involved I decided that one member would be taken out of prison and the other returned to prison. Quite by chance it happened that there were five fathers and sons among those 12 people. And that’s where I was unexpectedly helped because all fathers decided that they would stay in the Serb prisons and that their sons would be released. But everything ended with a happy-end because 4 days later, on October 10, those 12 people who I was forced to return to Serb prison were freed. And those Serb soldiers in Gorazde were also freed. So in the end everything ended well for all of us.’
• U.S. Secretary of Defense, William Perry, expects NATO to take action. Disagreements between NATO, the United States and the UN on how to punish the Serbs. NATO asks that the UN to determine adequate provocation for attacks. NATO strikes are an important part of international pressure.
• Owen and Stoltenberg say that the Serbian border is closed and that the sanctions against Yugoslavia should be lifted.
• Phantom negotiations over the airport. The Bosnian Serbs claim that they will not allow the use of the airport if UNPROFOR does not guarantee that in the case of a UN withdrawal the airport will be handed over to the Serbs. Presidency member Ejup Ganic: "In 1992, the legitimate BiH goverment signed an agreement surrendering the airport to UN troops. This is the only legal agreement. "
• The Bosnian Serbs set up a missile system near Bihac.
• While the Belgrade and Podgorica airports are open in reward for cooperation, Tuzla and Sarajevo airports are closed. Nothing enters the town, and the Serbs do not give consent for the passage of humanitarian convoys. Natural gas pressure is decreasing.
• NATO claims that the suppression of Sarajevo is sufficient reason for NATO air strikes. They request permission from UN Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali to launch strikes.
• Willy Claes becomes the new Secretary General of NATO.
• With the "Sow of Death" (M-84 machine gun) the Bosnian Serb form a stronghold in the hills from which they attack a tram. The driver is killed, 12 people are wounded. UN soldiers hid behind containers and APCs. Tram traffic is suspended. Akashi is shocked by the incident: "It is a clear violation of the agreement on the termination of sniper fire."
• The airport is closed because several aircraft are hit, as pilots discover upon landing.
• Promotion of the new BH dinar.
• Road brigands on Bosnian roads. Serbs attack and abduct UNHCR convoys.
• TV School for survival gives 2500 advice on the topic "Let's plant on every bit of our land!"
• The ARBiH is required to withdraw from the demilitarized zone on Igman. They request that the UN protect Igman road when they withdraw.
• In California a “sniper lifeguard” is invented as protection against snipers after one of its inventors watches a Serb on television boast of having killed 300 civilians through hilltop sniper fire.
• The film "Bosnia" by French philosopher Bernard Henri Lévy screened.
• The National Theatre has its premiere performance of "Romeo and Juliet" for children. Director - Olja Kostic.
• The Fifth Corps of ABiH is advancing.
• The Institute for Strategic Research in London issues an analysis of the situation in BiH: "The Serbs are slowly losing the military supremacy that they had at the beginning of the war."
• There is no oil in the city. The minimum amount reaches the city, and goes toward UN needs.
• The City government expects that UN troops will again ride the tram as protection, as well as UN APCs to follow trams Marin Dvor to Dolac Malta. The City government again requests anti-sniper teams
• François Léotard, French Defense Minister: "Our troops will be withdrawn from Bosnia if the arms embargo is lifted for Bosnia."
• The BBC shows video footage of Russian writer Eduard Limonov in 1992 shooting at Sarajevo from its surrounding hills.
• Progress in cooperation between NATO and UN. They agree on the prompt use of strikes and the choice of multiple targets without warning.
• Igman road is unprotected, as Bosnian Serbs fire on it.
• Liberated territory of BiH expands.
• By decision of the Pope, Vinko Puljic, head of the Catholic Church in BiH, will become a cardinal.