At the commemoration held on Sljeme for Marija Zec and her daughter Aleksandra, who were abducted and killed by the reservists of Tomislav Merčep in 1991, the Mayor of Zagreb, Tomislav Tomašević, announced that he would erect a memorial to the victims in cooperation with the Serb National Council.
By: Hrvoje Šimićević / Novosti
PHOTO: HINA/ Admir Buljubašić
On Zagreb’s Mount Medvednica, a commemoration was held for Marija Zec and her 12-year-old daughter Aleksandra, who were killed by Tomislav Merčep’s reservists in 1991, near the Adolfovac Mountain Lodge. Although the names of the perpetrators are known to the public, they were never held accountable for the terrible crime due to the “failure” of the judiciary under the control of the first Croatian president, Franjo Tuđman. Since that event 31 years have passed.
At the commemoration on Sljeme, organized by the Anti-fascist League and the Serb National Council (SNV), flowers were laid by Deputy Prime Minister Anja Šimpraga, President of the SNV Milorad Pupovac, the delegation of the City of Zagreb, Rada Borić, Member of the Croatian Parliament Ivana Kekin, as well as some diplomats and citizens of Zagreb.
The speech was delivered by the Mayor of Zagreb, Tomislav Tomašević.
– I was here last year to pay my respects and I clearly said then that this was and still is a crime that must never be repeated. This is one of the darkest episodes in the history of Zagreb. I am here once again to warn about what happened and that it must never happen again. I live in the neighbourhood of Trešnjevka, not far from the place where Mihajlo Zec was killed, after which Marija and Aleksandra were brought here and tortured to death. There are several terrible things with regards to this event. The first one is the fact that everything took place in the city, the second one is that a 12-year-old girl was executed, and the third is that the perpetrators were not held accountable for the crime, even though it is publicly known who they are – Tomašević pointed out.
He added that it was therefore important to commemorate the woeful anniversary and the place of suffering, which is exactly what the City of Zagreb would do. Namely, the Mayor announced that, in cooperation with the SNV, the City of Zagreb would place a memorial plaque dedicated to the Zec family. Finally, he also called for building society and building Zagreb as a city of tolerance and equality.
Along with Mayor Tomašević, Maša Samardžija gave a speech on behalf of the Anti-fascist League.
– We came here today not only in order to remember the Zec family, but also ourselves, as we once were. We came here today not only for a moment of togetherness in that memory, but also for the courage we need in denouncing the malicious downplaying of the circumstances of this crime. Here we can learn about that courage and solidarity in which we want to be each other’s support, no matter how much that desire, in difficult times, demands from us or from our children – Samardžija said, adding that even though it might not have been possible to save these parents and their child, in this case, as well as in other similar cases, such as the Čengić family from Ervenik, we are all obliged to remember their lives and learn about the circumstances in which it was possible to kill with impunity, in full view of everyone.
Aleksandra and Marija Zec were kidnapped on the night of December 7, 1991. Munib Suljić, Siniša Rimac, Igor Mikola, Nebojša Hodak, and Snježana Živanović, all Merčep’s reservists, broke into their family home in the Zagreb neighbourhood of Trešnjevka. Aleksandra’s father, Mihajlo Zec, a native of Zagreb of Serbian nationality, was shot dead while trying to escape. The perpetrators then took the two witnesses of the murder to Sljeme. During the interrogation and confession of the crime, the defence lawyer was not present, so the testimony was characterized as legally invalid. The perpetrators later defended themselves by remaining silent and were thus acquitted.
Mayor Tomašević’s announcement that he will erect memorials to Aleksandra and her parents on Sljeme is the first gesture of its kind in Zagreb. During the “reign” of former Mayor Milan Bandić, such a thing did not happen, despite the initiatives coming from various non-governmental organizations.
A proposal to name a street or a square in Zagreb after Aleksandra Zec was submitted to the former City Administration on several different occasions.
Documenta – Centre for Dealing with the Past and the Serb National Council announced in 2019 that such a proposal would be resubmitted. The Youth Initiative for Human Rights (YIHR) has also submitted its proposal. The current City Administration promised at the end of last year that it would support the initiative.