Smiles amid the ruins for Muslims home at last

EMMA DALY

Ilidza

A curiously festive air swept the looted ruins of Gavrilo Princip Street in Ilidza yesterday, as dozens of Muslims returned to their homes, four years after fleeing across the front line to safety - of a kind - in Sarajevo.

Jasna Hadzimehmedovic marched across the portal of No 15 - the front door had gone - gazed at the bare walls, marked only with crayoned graffiti, and wept for her childhood home.

But her parents, Mira and Muhammed, just laughed as they wandered through rooms stripped of furniture, light fixtures and plumbing by the Serb family who fled the transfer of authority in Ilidza yesterday from the Serb-held element of Bosnia to the Muslim-Croat federation.

"Goodbye my friends", someone, probably Ogi, had scrawled on the sitting- room wall. Ogi, a gangling 17-year-old, spent the war at No 15 with his parents, Maja and Ljubo Glogovac. In December they told us they would leave; they did not reveal their plans to vandalise the Hadzimehmedovic house as a parting gift.

"I cannot think about the past," Mrs Hadzimehmedovic said resolutely, moving though the wasteland that had been her bedroom, empty but for a cardboard box filled with old family photos. Even the fitted wardrobe had been ripped out, giving a view of Jasna's old room. "It was a shock - but it could have been worse," Jasna Hadzimehmedovic , a 25-year-old who works for a German aid agency in Sarajevo, said a few hours later. "This was my home for 20 years . . . there is nothing here of my history now, nothing to show that I had ever been here."

Sarajevo cabbies were giving former residents free taxi-rides yesterday to Ilidza, the largest of the five capital suburbs to revert to government rule under the Dayton plan. The sprawling spa town, west of the city, was known before the war for caravan sites and holiday homes, Austro-Hungarian avenues and a few modern apartment blocks. Dozens of buildings, including the picturesque old railway station, were put to the torch by the vengeful departing before the arrival yesterday of the Bosnian Federation police.

Four houses on Jasna's block had been burnt down; the dozen or so remaining had been stripped of all possible assets. "But as they say, what belongs to another is cursed, so they will not find happiness with my possessions," she said. "What can I say? These people just don't exist for me."

There is something gratuitous about the destruction of property by the Serbs leaving Ilidza - which was not badly damaged in the war. "We're the stupid party here, always begging people to live with us when they don't want to - now I'm glad [the nationalist Serbs] have left," Jasna said bitterly.

But at the same time, she knows that Bosnia's people need one another to survive. "We cannot live apart because we are a very small country, we're dependent on each other," she said.

Acknowledging the practicalities, however, does not help to heal the emotional wounds of war. "It will be very difficult to forgive and forget - it's not fair to ask people for that now: everything that they have done now under Dayton is artificial. But it is necessary." And Jasna intends to see the peace through, as she saw out the war, despite the death in December 1993 of her boyfriend, a Serb.

"Now we'll start from the beginning again, like the phoenix - it will be more beautiful than it was before."

t Belgrade - War crimes prosecutors and a senior US official questioned two Bosnian Serb soldiers about the massacre of Muslims from Srebrenica, and pressed for their extradition to the Hague tribunal, AP reports.

After meeting the two men, Drazen Erdemovic and Radoslav Kremenovic, John Shattuck, of the US State Department, said: "We have made very clear to President Milosevic that we expect that they will be turned over if there is to be full co-operation, and I believe they will be."

Arts and Entertainment
Sydney and Melbourne are locked in a row over giant milk crates
art
News
Kenny Ireland, pictured in 2010.
peopleActor, from House of Cards and Benidorm, was 68
News
A scene from the video shows students mock rioting
newsEnd-of-year leaver's YouTube film features staging of a playground gun massacre
Travel
travel
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Voices
A family sit and enjoy a quiet train journey
voicesForcing us to overhear dull phone conversations is an offensive act, says Simon Kelner
News
i100This Instagram photo does not prove Russian army is in Ukraine
News
Morrissey pictured in 2013
people
Sport
sportVan Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Environment
View from the Llanberis Track to the mountain lake Llyn
Du’r Arddu
environmentA large chunk of Mount Snowdon, in north Wales, is up for sale
Life and Style
Martha Stewart wrote an opinion column for Time magazine this week titled “Why I Love My Drone”
lifeLifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot... to take photos of her farm
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
filmReview: Sometimes the immersive experience was so good it blurred the line between fiction and reality
News
i100
Life and Style
The director of Wall-E Andrew Stanton with Angus MacLane's Lego model
gadgetsDesign made in Pixar animator’s spare time could get retail release
News
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
Environment
Tyred out: should fair weather cyclists have a separate slow lane?
environmentFormer Labour minister demands 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists
News
people
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

VB.Net Developer - £40k - Surrey - WANTED ASAP

£35000 - £40000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: .Mid Level V...

Digitakl Business Analyst, Slough

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Competitive Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: Dig...

Mechanical Estimator: Nuclear Energy - Sellafield

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Car, Medical, Fuel + More!: Progressive Recruitmen...

Dynamics NAV Techno-Functional Consultant

£50000 - £60000 per annum + benefits: Progressive Recruitment: An absolutely o...

Day In a Page

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices