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Wartime Killing of Serb Family Commemorated in Croatia
Commemoration of the killing of three members of the Zec family. Photo: Nikola Puharic.


Wartime Killing of Serb Family Commemorated in Croatia

Anniversary, Boris Milošević, Commemoration, Croatia, Zagreb

Croatian anti-fascist activists and the country’s deputy prime minister commemorated the anniversary of the wartime killing in Zagreb of three members of a Serb family including a 12-year-old girl.

The Anti-Fascist League of Croatia held a memorial event on Monday evening for the three murdered members of the Zec family on Sljeme Hill above Zagreb, where they were killed by Croatian reservist policemen during the war in December 1991 – a crime that remains unpunished.

On the 29th anniversary of their deaths, activists laid flowers and lit candles near the site of the killings.

The president of the Anti-Fascist League, veteran human rights activist Zoran Pusic, said at the commemoration that “this country has not found the strength to prosecute such a self-evident crime”.

Croatian Serb politician Boris Milosevic, who is a deputy prime minister in the Croatian government, also attended the commemoration, expressing indignation that “almost an entire family was killed solely on ethnic grounds, just because they were Serbs”.

A Croatian reservist police battalion came to the family’s house 29 years ago, killing Mihajlo Zec and detaining his wife Marija and 12-year-old daughter Aleksandra, then taking them to the deserted mountain lodge near Zagreb and murdering them.

The family’s other two children were not taken from their home and survived.

The five perpetrators were soon arrested and confessed, but were never convicted because of procedural irregularities during the trial.

They were members of a unit widely known as the ‘Mercepovci’ (Mercep’s Guys), named after its unofficial commander Tomislav Mercep, who was sentenced in 2017 to seven in prison for war crimes. Mercep died last month.

Branka Vierda from the Youth Initiative for Human Rights campaign group at the commemoration that “young people today need to know that even before they were born, there lived Aleksandra who did not differ from her peers in her success in school or the jacket she wore, but in the fact that her [ethnic] origin was different”.

“No one who stands for peace and freedom can allow Aleksandra Zec to be erased from history, and anyone who cares about justice and equality must persistent in highlighting the evil intentions of the political authorities that allow such a crime to go unpunished,” Vierda said.

Croatian poet Monika Herceg read verses at the commemoration while multimedia artist Ivan Marusic Klif set up an audio-video installation at the site.

An initiative to name a park in Zagreb after the Zec family was proposed in 2014 by the Youth Initiative for Human Rights, but the city administration rejected it.

Theatre director Oliver Frljic staged a play based on the case entitled ‘Aleksandra Zec’ in 2014. In the play, actors read the testimonies that the alleged perpetrators gave to police after their arrest.

The play inspired director Nebojsa Slijepcevic to make his film ‘Srbenka’, an award-winning documentary that followed the rehearsals and premiere of Frljic’s play and focused on the issue of nationality in contemporary Croatia.


Anja Vladisavljević

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