The crime in Kupres 1992 -

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Period: Yugoslav Wars

Region: Bosnia's Krajina

The crime in Kupres 1992

The crime in Kupres 1992 is organized ethnic cleansing of Serbs at the beginning of April of 1992,  in Kupres municipality (Bosnia) conducted by leading members of HDZ Kupres. Members of HOS and the regular army of the Republic of Croatia attacked  villages around Kupres and the town of Kupres itself, and killed Serbian civilians.

Only on April 8, 1992 did the Federal Army of Yugoslavia (JNA) units led by colonel Slavko Lisica arrive, having liberated Kupres area and investigated war crimes committed by Croatian military and paramilitary forces within five days.

The most of these crimes couldn’t be imagined to happen, lest to describe. Nobody was charged of these crimes, although the Ministry of Interior of Republic of Srpska submitted enough evidence to the Bosnia Prosecution for initiation of criminal charges.




SFR Yugoslavia was a federal state made up of 6 republics (FR Slovenia, FR Croatia, SR Bosnia and Herzegovina, SR Montenegro, SR Serbia and SR Macedonia). Both Yugoslavia and the JNA were, by definition, conceived on the principle of “brotherhood and unity” of all peoples and nationalities who lived in the SFRY.

The social and economic system of the SFRY was socialism. The 1974 Constitution of Yugoslavia brought about the decentralization of the SFRY, which later enabled the separatist forces in Slovenia and Croatia, and later in Bosnia and Herzegovina, to begin the break-up of Yugoslavia, followed by bloody wars and persecution.

In all the constitutions of Yugoslavia, the Yugoslav People's Army was defined as the only armed force in the territory of the SFRY, and therefore the only internationally recognized military entity. At the end of 1989, the SFRY Assembly passed amendments to the Constitution, thus replacing the one-party system with the multiparty system. Which meant that in addition to the only SKJ party, other parties could now be formed.

At the end of January 1990, the Alliance of Communists of Yugoslavia collapsed, at the famous 14th SKJ Congress in Belgrade, when there were sharp verbal clashes between Slovenian and Serbian delegates over the vision of the future of the common state of the SFRY.

The Slovenian delegation left the session, immediately followed by the delegation of the FR Croatia, which brought the issue of the congress into question. After them, the delegations of the FR of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the FR of Macedonia also left the congress. Thus, after 45 years, the rule of the communists in SFRY.




Bosnia and Herzegovina was the central Republic of Yugoslavia where Muslims, Serbs and Croats lived along with national minorities. On November 18, 1990 the first multiparty elections were held after WW2. The government was formed by the anticommunist coalition parties: SDA, SDS and HDZ. Member of Parliament who received the majority of votes was Fikret Abdic (47.4%), a successful businessman from Velika Kladusa (Northwest Bosnia). But he was overpowered by muslim extremists because he didn't want war, nor conflict with Serbs. In fact, he was just a bait for muslim voters on the elections. Thus, president of the BiH Presidency became Alija Izetbegovic, the pre-war prisoner and author of the notorious chauvinist "Islamic Declaration". President of the Parlament of BiH became Momcilo Krajisnik from SDS party, and Prime Minister of Federal Republic of BiH became Jure Prelivan (Croat). This coalition had endured for 15 month. It collapsed at beginning of the war in BiH, in April 1992.

Leading members of the Muslim Party of Democratic Action- Alija Izetbegovic, Haris Silajdzic, Ejup Ganic and others decided in 1991 that they didn't want Federal Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina to remain part of Yugoslavia, and that they wanted an independent state of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Here the plans of SDA and HDZ coincided, but both parties wanted to have an ethnically and religiously cleansed states. Bosnian's Croats wanted to merge with Croatia, and the Muslims to create Islamic republic. The idea

Izetbegovic participated in WW II in notorious Bosnian as Muslim 13th Waffen Mountain Division of the SS Handschar (1st Croatian) member, known for the WW II genocide of Serbs

of ​​an independent Bosnia and Herzegovina was further spread by the media. As early as October 1991 newspapers in Sarajevo published open threats to Serbian people. Inter alia, there was announcement of renewal of the so-called Handchar division, Ustasha unit from period of 1941-1945, which committed horrible crimes against Serbs in the Independent State of Croatia. This division had been mostly filled with Muslims. It is worth mentioning that Ustasha atrocities in Bosnia and Herzegovina had reached its peak in places such as Prebilovci, Drakulic, Bileca, Gacko, Donja Gradina, Kupres. 

August 1991 witnessed organized arming of paramilitary forces of Muslims and Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina which was conducted  through channels of the political parties SDA and HDZ, with the aim of attack on the Yugoslav People's Army (JNA). In October 1991 establishment of local committees of paramilitary units "Green Berets" and "Patriotic League B&H" occured. In the second half of 1991 Mostar was full of members of the JNA, who came from Croatia (Dalmatia and Dubrovnik area), from where they were expelled or withdrawn. They were withdrawn at the end of March 1992 in Uzice (Serbia).

On March 1, 1992 a referendum on the separation of Bosnia and Herzegovina from Yugoslavia was organized with 62.4% of voters having voted for independence. A day later in Sarajevo, members of the "Green Berets", led by a criminal Ramiz Delalić aka Celo, started shoting at a Serbian wedding party at Bascarsija having killed the groom's father Nikola Gardovic and wounded priest Radenko Mikovic. This was an event that announced the bloody war in Bosnia-Herzegovina in the 1990s, but this also served as cause to dissolve still mixed police in Sarajevo. After that, numerous attacks on Serbian positions in Bosnia and Herzegovina and on members of the JNA occured (Sijekovac, Kupres, Sarajevo, Tuzla...). International representatives remained silent to these events.

The situation in Kupres

Kupres is the town in Southwest part of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Kupres municipality includes a plateau at 1.200 meters of altitude and encompasses area of more than 550km. The Kupres plateau has important geostrategic position in B&H. In this area, Serbs were majority ethnic group for centuries.

During World War II, Ustasha units (Croats and Muslims) killed 1, 038 Serbs in Kupres, among which 255 were children below 10 years. Serbs from this area were mostly members of Partisan guerillas and 500 of them died as NOR soldiers. Not even genocide committed against Serbs during World War II in the territory of NDH could disturb the majority held by Serbs. According to cadastral data, 70% of the land property in the municipality of Kupres was possessed by Serbs after 1946 (that is, after the War).

When the War began in summer 1991 in Croatia, a number of young Croats moved to Croatia to fight on Vukovar front against Serbs and JNA (Yugoslav Army). This coincided with illegal arming of Croats from Bosnia in Kupres and that was the time when paramilitary formations HVO and HOS had been formed under the supervision of HDZ in Kupres. the Crisis Head Office and the Operational Office of Territorial Defense were also formed together with their affiliates. They were well armed and they sent daily treats to their Serbian neighbours that they would kill them. They marked Serbian houses with special labels as in the time of NDH.

On March 30, 1992 Božo Rajic, leader of HDZ Kupres informed in writing Gojko Susko, minister of Defense of Republic of Croatia and Stjepan Kljujic, leader of HDZ in Bosnia and Herzegovina on situation in Kupres and that ethnic cleansing of Serbs may began.

In March 1992, Croats and later Muslims from Kupres and surrounding places moved their wives and children out of Kupres, and only armed men stayed there. By the end of March armed soldiers of Croatia could be seen walking around in Kupres which generated great fear among local Serbs who reasonably worried that genocide from World War II could have been repeated. Checkpoints were installed at every significant road under control of HVO and HOS. They would also break into premises of enterprises and put their guards there.



The crime

In the morning of April 3, 1992 detonations and shooting from firearms could be heard from the village Malovan which is located 12 km from Kupres. Members of Croatian forces of HVO and HOS entered Serbian villages in Kupres and killed some Serbian civilians and some took to camps: Lora, Ljubuski, Zadar, burning Serbian houses and business premises.

One attack happened on this day was organized in Croatian village Šuice by members of Croatian units of HOS and ZNG and local Croats. They wore black uniforms with mark “U” which is Ustasha mark from World War II. Those local Serbs who failed to escaped were killed in their homes. On that day, 20 Serbs were killed in Donji Malovan.

The attack on Kupres on April 3, 1992 was carried out by the Croatian regular army- ZNG, together with paramilitary formations which were organized by leadership of HDZ in Kupres, Duvno and Livno and paramilitary formations of the party named HSP. Those units of the Croatian army which took part in this criminal act were:


  • The 106th Osijek Brigade of Republic of Croatia
  • The 101th Zagreb Brigade of Republic of Croatia
  • The Student Battalion of Republic of Croatia “King Tomislav” from Zagreb
  • The Special Unit of Republic of Croatia “Žuti Mravi” from Vukovar
  • The Unit for Special Missions of Ministry of Interior of Croatia
  • The Battalion of the Croatian Army named “Zrinjski”

This attack of Kupres and its surrounding villages occured at the time when B&H was still part of Yugoslavia. It is worth to note that there was no single soldier of JNA in the area of Kupres at the beginning of April 1992.  On April 6, 1992 the town of Kupres was attacked by Croatian units who were backed up by local Croats. The attack was conducted with heavy artillery destroying buildings owned by Serbs.

On April 7, 1992 forces of JNA arrived in Kupres under the command of  Slavko Lisica. They liberated Kupres and its villages, and Croatian forces retreated to Croatia. They took dozens of Serbian hostages and brought them to the camp “Lora”.


Names of victims

Serbian civilians killed in April, 1992


  1. Bastic T. Predrag, from Kupres, born in 1971 in Livno. Murdered in the basement of Mileno Vila on April 5, 1992.
  2. Bosnic N. Spiro, from Kupres, born in 1954 in the village Barjamovci, slaughtered



On March 29, 2013 Ministry of Interior of Republic of Srpska raised criminal charges to the Bosnia Prosecution for war crime committed against Serbian civilians in the area of Kupres within the period of April and May 1992.

Indictment included 8 persons of Croatian nationality who were members of HVO, ZNG and HOS: Bozo Rajic, Davor Glasnovic, Zeljko Glasnovic, Milenko Filipovic, Marko Vila, Ivo Cicak, Dragan Maric and a person with last name Boskovic.


Serbs who lived in the area of Kupres were in great agony during spring of 1992. After units of JNA had arrived and liberated Kupres on April 8, situation normalized. JNA general Slavko Lisica ordered operation of searching for Serbs who were killed by Croatian units between April 3 and 7, 1992.

There was attempt to exchange captives on June 29, 1993 in Celebic near Livno which was organized on behalf of Serbs by Mitar Maric and on behalf of Croats by members of HVO: Bozo Rajic, Jozo Maric, Valentin Coric, with mediation of representatives of the Observation Mission of EU. Croatian representatives didn’t stick to the agreement.

At the beginning of November 1994, joint Croatian and Muslim forces (HVO and the army of B&H) in the operation “Cincar” attacked Kupres again and seized it. Serbian people were expelled or killed. After the Dayton Agreement 1995, Kupres became part of Muslim-Croatian Federation. Today, a few Serbs have returned to Kupres and nearby villages. The majority is scattered throughout the world, far from their homeland.

It is still unknown what happened to 14 Serbs who were taken to camps: Lora, Zadar and Ljubuski.