Serbian leader visits site of wartime massacre

Serbian President Boris Tadic yesterday became the first Belgrade official to visit a site where more than 200 Croatians were massacred at the beginning of the war that tore the former Yugoslavia apart.

Mr Tadic's visit to the eastern Croatian town of Vukovar was intended to help the process of moving on. "I am here to extend words of apology, express sorrow and open possibilities for Serbs and Croats to start a new page in their history," Mr Tadic said as he laid a wreath at the graveyard of Ovcara, near Vukovar. That marked the place where Serbs took 300 people from the local hospital and executed them in November 1991. Apart from wounded Croat fighters, the victims included women, the elderly and a prominent local journalist.

Mr Tadic's host, Croatian President Ivo Josipovic, said Ovcara is a place of pain and "victims of senseless politics". Mr Josipovic added: "We came here to pay respect to the victims, express condolences and promise that no perpetrator will remain unpunished."

The two presidents, who are in their early 50s, belong to the new generation of politicians in the region that did not participate in the 1991-95 war and are trying to bring reconciliation between Serbs and Croats for the countries to move forward and put the war behind them.

But as the two leaders laid the wreaths in Ovcara, about 50 members of victims' families turned their back in protest as they visited the site. Some of them carried banners saying: "You're Not Welcome."

At the time, the regime of Slobodan Milosevic presented the fall of Vukovar as a huge victory against the Croats.What happened in Ovcara was only the first in a series of such events that culminated with the execution of about 8,000 Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica by Bosnian Serbs.

The international war crimes tribunal and a similar court in Serbia have sentenced12 people to a total of 150 years in prison for the execution of Vukovar hospital patients in Ovcara, which was a pig farm at the time. In a symbolic gesture, Mr Tadic arrived to Croatia by crossing the Danube River in a boat named "Golubica", or Dove.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
general electionThis quiz matches undecided voters with the best party for them
Life and Style
Emoji are rapidly becoming the language of the internet
techWhy internet acronyms are being driven out by emoji
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before