Human rights campaigners urged Prime Minister Dritan Abazovic to pay compensation to families of six civilians killed in air strikes on the village of Murino in April 1999 during NATO’s bombing of Yugoslavia.

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Montenegro Govt Urged to Compensate NATO Bombing Victims’ Families

Commemoration of the victims of NATO air strikes in the village of Murino. Photo: Government of Montenegro

Montenegrin NGO Human Rights Action on Tuesday called on Prime Minister Dritan Abazovic to give compensation to families of six civilians, including three children, who were killed in NATO air strikes in the village of Murino on April 30, 1999.

Human rights activists and families of the victims made the same demands to previous premiers Dusko Markovic and Zdravko Krivokapic in 2016 and 2020, but there was no response from the authorities.

“Compensation remaines a moral obligation of Montenegro, which the state should fulfill voluntarily. In this case, the total amount of almost half a million euros that the state would spend on damages would be a negligible burden on the state budget,” Human Rights Action said in a press release.

The Murino bombing was the deadliest attack on Montenegro during the 1999 bombing of Yugoslavia, when NATO air strikes killed Vukic Vuletic (40), Julija Brudar (10) and her sister Olivera Maksimovic (13), Miroslav Knezevic (13), Milka Kocanovic (69) and Manojlo Komatina (69).

They died when ten missiles hit a bridge on the iver Lim near the border with Kosovo. NATO considered the bridge to be a ‘legitimate military target’ because it was believed to be one of the main transit routes to Kosovo for Yugoslav Army troops stationed in Montenegro.

In May 2009, families of the Murino victims sued the state of Montenegro, seeking compensation in individual amounts ranging from 13,000 to 20,000 euros.

They accused the Montenegrin authorities of failing to detect attacks by NATO aircraft over its territory and to warn the public of possible impending dangers.

Lower courts ruled in favour of the families, but the supreme court said in 2013 that the cases should be thrown out because “the claims are out of date”, and the appeals court in Podgorica finally rejected the six cases for compensation in September and October 2014.

Velija Muric, a lawyer representing the victims’ families, insisted that the state of Montenegro is responsible for the deaths and injuries caused so it is obliged to pay compensation.

“Montenegro is set up in such a way that it detects all overflights through its security services. In this case, no one alerted or warned the Murino victims of possible NATO air strikes even though they knew that the bridge over the Lim is a very important strategic point,” Muric told Vijesti TV.

The NATO air strikes on Yugoslavia were launched in a bid to end Belgrade’s military campaign in Kosovo. Around 500 civilians were killed during the 78 days of bombing, according to an estimate by Human Rights Watch.

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