Banja Luka Mayor, Igor Radojičić, canceled all public manifestations related with New Year public celebration it the city after the peaceful protest of Group “Justice for David” turned in a violent breakup of the concert, planned for Sunday evening.
City administration planned several events to celebrate the arrival of the 2019 including three big concerts of popular singers and the “Children New Year”, which was supposed to be held on Monday at noon. A record number of tourists, mostly from Slovenia and Serbia, had already come to Banja Luka to celebrate, but the last day of the year held an unpleasant for all of them. On Monday, many of them decided to go home since the events they witnessed the night before were not in accordance with the normal understanding of the New Year celebration.
The group “Justice for David” on Sunday evening, held another protest demanding the solution of the case of murder of the 21-year-old student, David Dragičević. The Group leaders are David parents, Davor and Suzana, but many citizens think that the case is under influence of the opposition parties, especially Party of the Democratic Progress. This party failed to come to power on the General Elections, held in October, and now it is obviously trying to get it on the street.
Davor and Suzana are convinced that members of the Republika Srpska police killed David. According to their information, a dozen police officers and inspectors kidnapped David during the night of March 18, took him in the police station and then at an unknown destination where the young student was tortured, raped and strangled. Six days after he was declared missing, the police found his body in the river Crkvena in Banja Luka. The official version was that he was drugged and fell in the river. His parents started the protest and for 280 days demanded justice and truth. Later, the Group accused police and demand resignations from Minister of Interior, Police Director, inspectors and other whom they consider direct perpetrators of the murder or accomplices in this case.
On Sunday evening, the protest started with the usual iconography, continued with walk through the city and temporary traffic blockades on mains streets. The police did not react, but also regulated the traffic until the last Group member was safe on the pavement. Special Forces were protecting the main institutions and everything was going like the night before.
But then someone leaded the few thousand protesters to the building where pathologist, Željko Karan, lives. He made the autopsy of David’s body and concluded that he was under influence of drugs. His parents did not accept that fact and consider Karan guilty as accomplice in the case. The protesters were yelling under his windows demanding him to show up on the balcony and jump to his death.
The protest continued with the walk to the place where the popular folk singer, Haris Džinović, supposed to hold the concert. A few hundred Group members invaded the square and prevented the concert from taking place. After the official announcement that there will be no concert that night, less than 50 Group members went to the Banja Luka main square.
Then police forces came and after several warnings they dispersed the protesters, arrested several of them and cleared the square. On Monday, Banja Luka police announced that the search for several persons, including Davor Dragičević, is ongoing and that further “Justice for David” gatherings will not be tolerated.
Banja Luka it seems will enter in New Year in silence.