Dead Bosnian Student’s Parents Exhume Body in Protest

The parents of 21-year-old David Dragicevic, whose unresolved death in March last year sparked long-running protests about an alleged cover-up, have exhumed his body and will rebury it in Austria.

‘Justice for David’ protest in Banja Luka in April 2018. Photo: EPA/Vladimir Stojkovic.

Supporters of David Dragicevic’s parents gathered on Tuesday morning at a cemetery in a Bosnian town of Banja Luka to attend the exhumation of the student who died in uncertain circumstances in March 2018.

The family will rebury the body on Friday in the Austrian town of Wiener Neustadt, where his mother Suzana Radanovic lives.

His parents have explained that they don’t want their son to lie permanently “in a mafia state”.

Ozren Perduv, a member of the ‘Justice for David’ campaign, which has staged regular protests in Banja Luka, alleging a cover-up of the causes of the student’s death, told media before the exhumation that the campaign would continue.

“Today is the toughest day since our fight began. This day sends a message that even the dead have no peace,” Perduv said.

“David is leaving Banja Luka, but we are continuing our fight because this is not an isolated case,” he added.

The dead student’s mother Suzana was present at the exhumation, but his father, Davor, was not, as he is on the run.

Davor Dragicevic left the country the end of last year after the Interior Ministry in Bosnia’s Serb-dominated Republika Srpska entity issued a warrant for his arrest following a clash between ‘Justice for David’ protesters and police on December 30.

On February 6, in his first television appearance since he went on hiding, Davor Dragicevic accused the Republika Srpska authorities of seeking to kill him.

He led weekly protests from March 26, 2018, demanding the truth about his son’s death.

The student’s parents say they believe he was murdered and have alleged a cover-up, although the authorities have denied this.

David Dragicevic’s body was discovered on March 24 in shallow waters of the river Crkvena, not far from the centre of Banja Luka, the administrative centre of Republika Srpska.

Police say he drowned, but conflicting pathology reports and inconsistencies in police statements have fuelled anger over what many Bosnian Serbs see as police incompetence and indifference. The failure of the police to fully resolve the case has been at the centre of public attention in Bosnia ever since.

On July 4, Chief District Attorney Zelimir Lepir confirmed that an order had been issued to carry out an investigation into unknown persons for murder.

The failure of the police to fully resolve the case has been at the centre of public attention in Bosnia ever since.

Since the Republika Srpska police banned protests and gatherings by members of the ‘Justice for David’ group, they have been lighting candles at the cathedral in the centre of Banja Luka every evening at 6pm.

Danijel Kovacevic