Hajra Catic, a leading figure in the drive to find the remains of more than 8,000 Bosnian Muslims killed in the 1995 Srebrenica massacre and bring their attackers to justice, died on Tuesday.
Catic, 78, failed to find the remains of her son, who perished in Europe’s worst atrocity since World War II that was deemed a genocide by two international courts.
She lost 20 male relatives including her husband and son Nino Catic, the Srebrenica correspondent for several Bosnian newspapers and other media during the 1992-1995 war, who was 26 years old when he died.
“Hajra Catic died today without being able to attend the funeral of her son Nihad Nino Catic,” the Srebrenica memorial centre said in a statement.
For 26 years “she kept the memory of the courage of this war reporter from Srebrenica, encouraging others that the fight for the truth and justice cannot and should not cease,” it said.
Nino Catic’s last despatch was sent a day before the town was captured by Bosnian Serb forces on July 11, 1995.
The Serbs killed more than 8,000 men and boys in the following days and buried them in mass graves in the region.
– ‘Something to bury’ –
“If only I could find a finger of my son I would have something to bury,” Catic told AFP in 2010.
Local media reported that she died after a long illness in Sarajevo.
Catic headed the Women of Srebrenica association in the northeastern town of Tuzla, where she fled after the massacre.
She organised a protest on the 11th day of every month to seek the arrest of those responsible.
Bosnian Serb wartime leader Radovan Karadzic and his army chief Ratko Mladic were later sentenced to life by a UN war crimes court, notably for the genocide in Srebrenica.
But Serb leaders in both Bosnia and Serbia as well as many ordinary Serbs usually fall short of labelling it genocide and opt for the term “great crime”.
Meanwhile, in Serbian capital Belgrade police briefly detained two human rights activists who threw eggs at a mural of Mladic, N1 regional television reported.
Activists had been planning to paint over the mural in downtown Belgrade but police banned the gathering citing security concerns, aiming to prevent possible clashes with nationalists who see Mladic as a national hero.
Late Tuesday, several hundred people marched towards the mural in support of the detained activists but the police blocked access to it, N1 reported.
A small group of right-wingers remained close to the mural, chanting support for the war criminal and insults to the protesters.