IJAS: 25 Years Since Death of RTS Workers – Innocent Victims of Serbian Government and NATO

Source/Author: IJAS

Tomorrow marks the 25th anniversary of the bombing of the Radio Television of Serbia building and killing of 16  workers of media public service.

On the night between April 22 and 23, 1999, during a news broadcast, at 2:06 AM, a bomb from a NATO bomber hit part of a building in the center of Belgrade.

People who were at their workplace at the time lost their lives: Jelica Munitlak, Ksenija Banković, Darko Stoimenovski, Nebojša Stojanović, Dragorad Dragojević, Dragan Tasić, Aleksandar Deletić, Slaviša Stevanović, Siniša Medić, Ivan Stukalo, Dejan Marković, Milan Joksimović, Branislav Jovanović, Slobodan Jontić, Milovan Janković and Tomislav Mitrović.

Although NATO put the RTS building on the list of legitimate targets and announced the bombing, the employees of the state television were not evacuated but were deliberately sacrificed, and their deaths were misused for the propaganda purposes of the then regime.

Dragoljub Milanović, the former director of RTS, was the only one convicted of this crime, although neither the state nor the military leadership did nothing to protect RTS employees. 25 years have passed since the crime, and their responsibility is not mentioned. The chain of responsibility for the death of the workers was not determined, and their death was treated as a consequence of the responsible person’s failure to comply with the regulations on protective measures.

There is no doubt that RTS was used as a means of war propaganda, but that cannot be the reason for the bombing and there is no reasonable justification for an armed attack by the NATO. We remind that before this terrible war crime in Belgrade’s Aberdareva Street, during the civil war in Bosnia and Herzegovina (1992 – 1995), the armed forces led by Radovan Karadžić and Ratko Mladić in Sarajevo demolished, among other things, the building of the newspaper Oslobođenje and severely damaged the building of RTV dom, and in those bombings there were human casualties. The similar crime happened three years ago when the Israeli military forces bombed a building in Gaza that housed several media outlets, including Al Jazeera and the Associated Press, under the pretext that there were members of Hamas hiding in the building. Therefore, we are witnessing the same attacks on the media under similar charges and without prosecuting the perpetrators, and we fear that this can happen again.

Since many of those who ruled Serbia in the nineties of the last century are in power today, on this occasion we remind them of the consequences of the media darkness from that time. One of the consequences is the death of RTS workers, the other is many innocent people who suffered and  died because of propaganda that has been shamelessly abused in RTS reporting in the 1990s.


Independent Journalists’ Association of Serbia (IJAS)