The first of BIRN’s Solidarity Stories series is about Refik Visca, a Bosniak from Zavidovici who was killed in 1992 in an effort to prevent the murder of 12 Serbian prisoners during the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH).
On August 12th, 1992, military policeman Refik Visca was off duty when he found out that Jasmin Vikovic was heading towards the Secondary Technical School in Zavidovici, a town in central BiH.
At the school, 12 Serb prisoners, residents of surrounding villages who had been captured, were being held.
Vikovic headed towards the Secondary Technical School with the intention of killing the prisoners, because that day his cousin was killed on the frontline near Zavidovici.
Senad Visca, Refik’s nephew, says that his uncle found Vikovic at the school door, where one of the guards was trying to prevent him from entering. According to Senad, Refik approached Vikovic from behind, asking him to put down his rifle. Then, with the intention of scaring him, Refik fired a bullet into the ground, but at that moment Vikovic shot at Refik, who succumbed to his injuries.
Senad recalled the last moment he saw his uncle on the day before his death, describing that Refik hugged him and stroked his hair. He added that his uncle, who was an accountant in Zavidovici, was a popular man.
”Where’s daddy, where’s daddy?”
On March 5th, 1999, the Cantonal Court in Zenica sentenced Vikovic to two years in prison for the murder of Refik Visca. As stated in the verdict, Vikovic came to the premises of the Military Police in Zavidovici around 7 p.m., asking the military policemen to let him into the premises where the prisoners were being held, in order to find a person suspected of having something to do with the earlier murder of his uncle.
The first-instance verdict stated that when the military policemen prevented him from entering, he fired a burst of bullets into the body of one military policeman, which killed him on the spot, and shot another military policeman in his left leg.
After the first-instance verdict was appealed, the Supreme Court of the Federation of BiH (FBiH) sentenced Vikovic to five years in prison on October 10th, 2000.
Rasida Ziga, the older sister of Refik Visca, still lives in Zavidovici today. A few minutes before his murder, she saw her brother from the balcony where she was drinking coffee with her husband and invited him to join them.
She said that her brother was 37 years old when he was killed and that he was the father of two children – Amar and Admir, who were five and six years old. Two weeks before the murder, Refik enrolled Amar in the first grade of elementary school, but, unfortunately, he never got the opportunity to take him to school, Rasida points out.
“They were not told immediately that their father had passed away. They were only asking: ”Where is daddy, where is daddy‘,” she says.