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30th Nov 2022

Wealthy foreigners paid to take part in ‘civilian hunting’ in Bosnia, documentary film alleges

Jack Peat

Individuals would pay to kill unarmed civilians with snipers during the siege of Sarajevo, the documentary claims

A new documentary film has addressed shocking allegations that small groups of wealthy, influential foreigners paid money to “hunt” civilians in besieged Sarajevo in the 1990s.

‘Sarajevo Safari’, from the Slovenian director Miran Zupanic, claims “tourist shooters” from Russia, Canada, America and Italy would give members of the Serb nationalist forces huge sums of money to partake in expeditions to kill defenseless, unarmed civilians with snipers.

The macabre weekend tours reportedly started at the beginning of the war in 1992 and continued for at least several months in 1993 and 1994, as the aggression against Bosnia and Herzegovina continued to ravage the country.

It is alleged that the activity was welcomed by their enablers among the Serb nationalist forces because it supplied vital money as well as assisting with the objective in itself.

Sarajevo’s Mayor Benjamina Karic has filed official criminal complaints against the unknown perpetrators of this violence as well as members of the Army of Republika Srpska who were responsible for coordinating it since the allegations came to light.

“I consider it right and my duty to react in this way to the facts presented in the documentary film ‘Sarajevo Safari,’” said Karic at the time. On Nov. 1, Karic shared the official response from the prosecutor’s office: “The acting prosecutor in the War Crimes Special Department has been appointed, who, in the coming period, together with partner institutions and agencies, will take the necessary steps to verify the allegations from the complaint.”

Film producer Franci Zajc said his initial skepticism was transformed into determination after long conversations with one Slovenian man.

This man, a former intelligence officer, appears in the documentary with an obscured face as a protected and unidentified witness.

Speaking in a steady voice, he claims to have been in Bosnia about 35 times between 1992 and the end of 1994 and to have witnessed seven sniper shootings.

Describing the scenes from various sniper shoots he attended, he said:

“We come inside, to the two rooms that were prepared. Everything was concealed.

“There were several positions, so they were taken in turns. After they shot from one, they would go to another position.

“When you shoot from one position, there is a great chance that you will be shot back from the other side, because the position of the sniper is revealed.

“Later I saw that, in fluent English, the one from the army told the other two that he would do the preparation. But I thought anyway that he would lie down there, next to where the binoculars were, and that he would look through the binoculars.

“I couldn’t believe that he laid down, that the rifle was handed to him — everything was prepared — and that he fired.”

The “tourist shooters” would apparently come first to Belgrade by plane from Trieste, Italy. From there, helicopters from the Yugoslav Army (VJ) would transfer them to the town of Pale on the territory controlled by the Bosnian Serbs.

They would then travel by vehicle to nearby Sarajevo.

Once they reached Sarajevo, members of the Army of the Republika Srpska introduced the foreigners to their sniper positions around Grbavica and other neighborhoods, where victims would be shot from the rooftops of tall buildings and the hills above the city.

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