Witnesses not enough to indict SIPA inspector

Although survivors and witnesses, including a professional driver, agree a SIPA car was to blame for a deadly crash about 11 months ago, prosecutors have brought no indictment.

Witnesses to a horrific crash about 11 months ago in the village of Janjići that killed one person and injured five others, three so badly they are permanently disabled, all say the same thing: it was the fault of a State Agency for Security and Investigation (SIPA) inspector.

He denies it.

The witnesses and the family of the dead woman wonder if investigation of the accident has stalled because a SIPA inspector is involved in it. Centrotrans bus driver Sejad Memišević suggests carefully that the investigation is not really aimed at figuring out blame. ‘Maybe’ he said, ‘it is aimed to forget about everything.’

Officials deny this. Still, about 11 months later, a prosecutor says she doesn’t know when or if she’ll indict anyone.

Witnesses are clear in their mind and agree what happened last July 7. They say SIPA inspector Njegoš Poljaković, driving a Gulf IV, overtook a line of cars in front of him on State Road M17, near Zenica. They say that while passing back into his own lane he clipped an oncoming Opel Astra, carrying three people. As he sped away, the driver of the Opel, who had been trying to avoid him, lost control and crashed into the front of an Audi 80 filled with five people, spun and hit it in the back as well.

The witnesses told all this to Ministry of Interior of the Zenica-Doboj Canton (MUP ZDK) investigators who filed a report with the cantonal prosecutor’s office. But SIPA told prosecutors that their inspector doesn’t remember hitting any car. His police vehicle was examined and while it was damaged, a court expert could not determine if it was the result of coming into contact with the Opel.

For the victims of the crash, it’s been a hard year.

Amela Zahić, 22, of Prijedor, a back-seat passenger in the Audi, died three days after the crash. Two other passengers in that car, driver Almir Nezirović, 33, and Sandra Semanjić, 25, also of Prijedor, sustained crippling injuries.

Mevlija Mustafić, 28, a U.S. resident who was driving the rented Opel, must still go every three days for kidney dialysis. Esad Ramić, 26, and Medina Selimović, 13, the passengers in her car, were injured as well.

‘It’s outrageous how long this has been going on’ said Sabiha Zahić, Amela’s mother. ‘We don’t blame anyone, but we demand that the culprit for the death of our daughter be found.’

When the police car overtook the bus, driver Memišević slowed, he said, so that the police car could get back into the lane ahead of him and behind the Audi. But the police car kept going. Memišević saw disaster coming. He watched the Opel driver try to avoid the police car coming at it by moving to the right shoulder. The bus driver braked hard – so hard that is passengers spilled out of their seats. But at least he did not pile into the crash between the Opel and the Audi.

Bystanders told investigator that the accident happened in a split second.

Vesne Kaknjo of the ZDK prosecutor’s office said the investigation of the crash extended beyond the six months the BiH Penal Code allows because she had to wait for victims to get well enough to be interviewed. She said she would not give out information on the crash, including results of blood tests done on the three drivers.

Mirza Lišinović, head of SIPA’s Internal Affairs department, said SIPA has cooperated with the prosecutor’s office, but there is nothing he can do, he said, unless an indictment is filed against Poljaković.

The inspector was recently recommended for promotion.