The Serbian Defence Ministry hosted a promotional event on Tuesday evening for a new book that claims to prove that Bosnian Serb forces were not responsible for the Tuzla Gate massacre in which 71 people died on May 25, 1995, contradicting the facts established by the Bosnian state court.
The book, entitled ‘Tuzla Gate – A Stage-Managed Tragedy’, was written by Ilija Brankovic, a former Yugoslav People’s Army general.
The event to promote it was held at the Central Military Club in Belgrade, which is owned by Media Centar Odbrana, the Defence Ministry’s publishing and press centre.
Brankovic claims that the Tuzla Gate area of the town was not shelled, but instead was destroyed by an explosive device pre-planted by others.
The aim of his book is to prove that Novak Djukic, the wartime commander of the Bosnian Serb Army’s Ozren Tactical Group, who was convicted of the attack, was not responsible for ordering the shelling of the town.
Djukic was sentenced to 20 years in prison by the Bosnian state court but is not serving his jail time because he left the country for Serbia, which does not have an extradition agreement with Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The Belgrade-based Humanitarian Law Centre NGO said on Twitter on Tuesday that it was unacceptable that the Serbian Defence Ministry “continues to negate facts established in court, promote war criminals and scorn victims”.
— Fond za humanitarno pravo (@FHPHLC) November 5, 2019
After Djukic was convicted in Bosnia and Herzegovina in April 2014, he did not turn up to start serving his sentence but left for Serbia, as he has Serbian citizenship.
The Bosnian authorities have repeatedly asked Serbia to take over the verdict and force the fugitive Djukic to serve his sentence there, but the Belgrade court has yet to issue any ruling.
Hearings in the case have been postponed several times.
Djukic’s defence team has established a website to promote his case and also staged what they described as a reconstruction of the Tuzla Gate blast, in which they simulated a shell attack on models of buildings.
Djukic’s team claim they proved that the people who died could not have been killed by a shell fired from the Bosnian Serb’s Army positions.
This reconstruction was held at a Serbian Army centre in Nikinci, near Ruma.
The Tuzla Gate book promotion at the Central Military Club came 10 days after the Serbian Defence Ministry organised an event at the Belgrade Book Fair to promote a new book by former senior Yugoslav Army officer Nebojsa Pavkovic, who is currently serving a prison sentence for war crimes in Kosovo.
There was another launch event for the Tuzla Gate book in Belgrade in June this year, which was organised by the team defending Djukic.