EVERYTHING IS SEEN, EVERYTHING IS KNOWN A battle for life or an organized crime of coal theft in Dubrave?

Five people have died tragically over the past few years. Nobody wants to say publicly who is behind the theft of several hundred tons of coal per day. The authorities do not do much, inspections are powerless, the residents of Donje Dubrave live in fear. The former directors and managers were convicted, and the Prosecutor: Office has not yet received a written authenticated copy of the verdict

Author: Edin SKOKIĆ

The Dubrave open-cast mine has recently claimed another life.

Mersed Pudilović (32) tragically died on the conveyor belt. After he was transported to University Clinical Center Tuzla, the doctors could only pronounce him death. Tragedies have happened at this mine before, and in 2015, four lives were lost right here. What is the cause? Why do accidents happen?

Public secret

First, it is a public secret that the theft of coal from Dubrave open-cast mine has never stopped.

Many will say that thefts are done by people, who are on the brink of existence and are saving their lives by stealing coal. Others claim that there are also cases of organized crime.

Mirsad and Sabha Herić: We know who invited our son

– It is known who had called my son, who is selling the coal and who has threatened us because of our statements. Nothing is being done about it – said Mirsad and Sahba Herić, parents of 18-year old Edin who had lost his life on Dubrave open-cast mine in 2015.

They have waited seven years for some kind of justice, and towards the end of the year the Municipal Court in Živinice had passed a sentence on six  managers of Dubrave open-cast mine concerning the case from 2015 when Alem Dedić, Reuf Alibašić and Adel Šehić were killed during the illegal extraction of coal together with Edin Herić.

All were found guilty

Accused were Suad Zonić, the executive director for production and maintenance at Kreka Coal Mine; Sakib Muhtarević, manager of Dubrave open-cast mine; Sakib Halilčević, the mine’s technical manager; Asim Brčaninović, the mine’s occupational safety manager; Nedim Šljivić, technical manager for the excavator, belt and sorting machine at the mine and Mirsad Delić, technical manager for the excavator, belt and disposer.

According to the verdict of the Municipal Court in Živinice, all of them were found guilty for the omissions they had in their work.

Zonić was sentenced to three and a half years in prison, while Muhtarević, Halilčević and Brčaninović were sentenced to two and a half years in prison. According to the verdict, Šljivić and Delić should spend two years in prison.

– We still have not receive an authenticated copy of the verdict. We do not know if their defense attorney will file an appeal – said for Interview Admir Arnautović, spokesperson of the Cantonal Prosecutor’s Office of Tuzla Canton.

Minimum of satisfaction

A security measure prohibiting them from performing their duties for a period of three years were also imposed.

– It is minimum of satisfaction for us, but we have heard that they are going to appeal, so the case will end up in the second-instance proceeding – said Mirsad Herić.

The coal theft reduced after the tragedy of 2015, but hasn’t stopped completely.

The Union’s call to the authorities 

The coal mine Kreka, the part of which is the open-cast mine Dubrave, has hired a security firm to secure the pit, but according to Zudija Tokić, president of the Kreka Trade Union, it is very difficult to cover kilometers long area.

– The belt that transports coal on the open-cast mine Dubrave is several kilometers long. There is no chance whatsoever for the mine to do anything to protect such a large area. It cannot be done physically or in any other way. As the Trade Union we urge and call upon the city i.e. the local communities, ministries of interior and all of them in that circle, to act together and prevent other unwanted events – said Tokić.

An appeal was made to the citizens and all others who come close to the open-cast mine Dubrave to desist from illegal and prohibited activities as they are putting their lives in great danger.

– Such cases have happened before. There are records, signs, boards, reports to the police. Unfortunately, another case happened. We appeal to the citizens not to enter the mine area, that is, the mine facilities, in order to protect their health and
their lives – said Ermin Alić, Federation mining inspector.

Final decision

The last victim of the open-cast mine Dubrave, Mersed Pudilović (32), once played football in low league clubs in the area of Tuzla Canton. He comes from the Municipality of Srebrenica, and he lost many members of his family and relatives in the genocide.

The preliminary results of the investigation indicate that the conveyor belt had pulled him in, and the outcome was fatal. Will the death of Mersed Pudilović get a judicial epilogue? The investigation is being conducted by the Cantonal Prosecutor’s Office of Tuzla Canton, but there is no doubt that the investigation will take some time.

– We are waiting for the results of the expert examination, whereafter the final prosecutorial decision will be made – said the Cantonal Prosecutor’s Office of Tuzla Canton.

The problems has been there for years

And until then, coal theft continues.

We remind you that about fifteen years ago, excavators, trenchers and other machinery were seized in an operation by the Ministry of Interior. However, there was actually no effect because human lives are being lost.

It is also a public secret that injured citizens who steal coal from the conveyor belts do not go to the public health institutions, all in order to avoid criminal prosecution. No one knows for sure how many people have been injured in the theft of coal from the open-cast mine Dubrave in the last thirty years. The number of fatalities is five.

Who is digging and who is protecting them

According to never-before-presented and official data, even up to 400 tons of coal disappear from this mine in one day before the season.

The Cantonal Administration for Inspection Affairs also got involved in solving this problem, which has been going on for years.

The inspection measures failed, as did the measures of former management that started disciplinary proceedings against the security officers.

After the tragedy in which four young men had lost their lives the former director of the pit Enver Omazić said:

– In this case, individuals devised a business undertaking and those who earned the least paid with their lives.

He did not name the individuals.

The cantonal administration for inspection affairs confirmed that everyone knows everything, but keeps silent about it.

– That’s where the money is being made. Dubrava mine has the biggest responsibility, they have to protect themselves and their property. Much bigger jobs take place with the blessing of Dubrave mine’s security service, and I also believe that there are also members of the Ministry of Interior involved in that cooperation – he claimed.

The cantonal prosecutor’s office had on a couple of occasions refused to conduct an investigation into several illegal pits, where coal was stolen with the help of trenchers.

They stated that “it doesn’t constitute a crime”.

An appeal to the residents

The problem is not only theft, but also the fact that the residents of Donje Dubrave (where most Croat residents live) do not have peace and cannot get any sleep.

They sent an appeal to the authorities, due to the daily disruption of peace and order “by organized criminal groups who steal coal day and night by throwing it out of the tailings system of the open-cast mine Dubrave, which is in the immediate vicinity of our homes”.

– We are exposed to nationalist insults when coal is loaded, violent and savage behavior and even threatened with a terrorist attack. Defective vehicles parked in front of our homes after midnight make terrifying noises, which makes us feel scared and unprotected, causing great psychological stress. We are soon expecting them to break into our houses, because none of the authorities are responding. It is not enough for the Ministry of Interior, that is, for the police station in Živinice, that at our neighbor’s house, whom we will not name now for security reasons, three vehicles were set on fire in front of the house, that the second neighbor’s barn, cow and a hundred bales of hay were set on fire, that the third neighbor’s house was robbed five times, that every house
was robbed several times, that dozens of robberies were committed in the yards of our houses. The police station in Živinice does not react to constant and serious violations of law and order, to robberies and larcenies, or to committed crimes– read their appeal.

They pointed out that stolen coal is transported by unregistered and technically defective vehicles, and often the drivers are minors and without a driver’s license, which is known to the police, but without any effect.

Everything is seen, everything is known They asked the Prime Minister of Tuzla Canton to intervene and do everything in his power to protect the locals from groups of criminals as well as against the partiality of the police in police station Živinice, as well as to put a stop to obstruction and inaction.

– Such organized thefts of coal have already ended in the tragic death of several people, so we are right to worry that such a scenario could happen again. But this time, if a similar scenario occurs, all those who are publicly aware of this security problem and responsible for addressing it, but fail to do so, will be directly held accountable – they wrote.

Not much has changed after their appeal. The government is mostly the same. Tragedies are new.

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