THE FINAL STAGE OF ECOCIDE: Trebević or Death

Using the example of Trebević, the “deadly political enemies” SNSD and SDS show that business (deforestation, sale of land parcels, and enormous profit from it) is what brings them together, and any talk of rivalry and mutual accusations of “traitors, thieves, and criminals in power” falls flat. Valter publishes documents about the latest decision to sell 40 parcels, covering an area of about 123,000 square meters. All of this could have serious consequences for life in Sarajevo in the near future.

 

 By: Valter portal

 

Trebević, with increasingly sombre scenes: concrete fences pile up, cranes are set up, tall buildings and villas with pools emerge. This mountain has become a large construction site in a decades-long process of illegal construction, questionable transfer of ownership of state land to the Municipality of Istočni Stari Grad, and its subsequent sale to unknown individuals. All of this is accompanied by unacceptable and often illegal deforestation.

Valter exclusively publishes the decision from January 19, 2024, proving that the members of the Municipal Assembly of Istočni Stari Grad, during their 46th session, voted to sell as many as 40 new parcels on Trebević, covering an area of 123,019 square meters owned by the Municipality.

Facsimile of the decision to sell these 40 parcels (covering an area of approximately 123,000 square meters) and the continuation of Trebević’s devastation.

As we learn, the Republika Srpska Legal Office is currently considering whether the conditions for concluding contracts between the municipality and investors have been met. The fact that everything is being done in secrecy and has institutional support is confirmed by the lack of response from the Legal Office to our questions sent to them about twenty days ago. As before, the decision of the Legal Office will align with political directives.

EVERYTHING IS DECIDED IN BANJALUKA

“We can characterize this devastation of Mount Trebević as a crime that could not have happened without the consent of the institutions of Republika Srpska, whose headquarters are in Banja Luka, namely the Government of Republika Srpska,” says Ljubo Tadić, a former SNSD municipal councillor in the Assembly of the Municipality of Istočni Stari Grad, to Valter.

Tadić: Inspection authorities from Istočno Sarajevo will do everything to prevent the annulment of construction permits issued without the consent of regulatory plans.

The Mayor of the Municipality of Istočni Stari Grad is Bojo Gašanović, affiliated with SDS, whom the locals claim is merely an executor of orders from entity authorities. The municipality is headquartered in the Hreša settlement and comprises rural areas: Bulozi, Čeljigovići, Donje Međuše, Donji Bulozi, Dovlići, Gornje Međuše, Kumane, Lapišnica, Mrazovac, Njemanica, Studenkovići, Vučija Luka, Zlatište, and Blizanci.

The land configuration is predominantly hilly-mountainous and belongs to the Sarajevo-Romanija region. Although approximately 1,500 people live in this municipality, our interviewee emphasizes that this number does not exceed 600 today.

It all started in 2012 when the residents discovered suspicious land parcelling on Trebević.

Four years later (2016), the Municipality of Istočni Stari Grad submitted a request to the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Water Management of Republika Srpska, seeking approval for deforestation on Trebević for 82 parcels, covering an area of 260,000 square meters. However, instead of 82 parcels, approval was granted for 97 parcels – all on the same area of 260,000 square meters!

Photo: Facsimile of the Decision on deforestation for 260,000 square meters for 97 parcels.

“The Ministry granted approval for deforestation for the permanent change of purpose on Trebević, and the Ministry of Spatial Planning, Construction, and Ecology gave consent for changes to regulatory plans made by the Municipality of Istočni Stari Grad. These regulatory plans have been expanded multiple times from 2014 to the present, receiving approval from the relevant Ministry,” testifies Tadić.

In the 2016 Decision on deforestation and permanent change of purpose, approved by the Assistant Minister for Forestry of Republika Srpska, Goran Zubić, the Municipality of Istočni Stari Grad was given 15 more parcels than requested in the Municipality’s application. Zubić is also a member of the Main Board of the SNSD.

Locals claim that in 2017, they informed Milorad Dodik about the devastation of Trebević, accompanied by corruption and clientelism, but everything ultimately starts and ends with him.

Photo: On the slopes of Trebević, with a “view” of Sarajevo, a concrete monster, Roof Gardens, is emerging.

“Dodik then promised that legal frameworks would be established to protect Trebević because these hills were simply ‘under attack.’ This lull lasted for a year or two, and it was noticeable that the process was slowed down during that time,” emphasizes Tadić.

In the year of local elections (2020), the devastation was almost halted, and SNSD councillors gained the support of the locals. However, a political twist occurred with Dubravka Dragaš-Tadić, the president of the SNSD Municipal Board in Istočni Stari Grad, playing a key role. Our interviewee states that Dragaš-Tadić “betrayed” the whole matter, i.e., she supported the “business” and the devastation of Trebević instead of protecting nature and the forest.

THE SYSTEM PROTECTS BUSINESS AND SUPPORTS ECOCIDE

Several SNSD councillors, including Ljubo Tadić, then called for intra-party elections, but the SNSD Municipal Board rejected this. Today, Dragaš-Tadić still leads the municipal board and advocates for policies that align with the ruling SDS.

In other words, since administratively this municipality belongs to Istočno Sarajevo, everything is done with the support of the mayor, Ljubiša Ćosić (SNSD), who has connected with Gašanović (SDS) through their first joint project, Sunnyland.

“Sunnyland” from the air

For example, in the case of Trebević, the “deadly political enemies” SNSD and SDS have shown that business (deforestation, sale of land parcels, and enormous profit from it) is what unites them, and any talk of rivalry and mutual accusations of “traitors, thieves, and criminals” falls flat.

“Sunnyland was developed in the territory of East New Sarajevo, led by Mr. Ljubiša Ćosić, who involved Mr. Gašanović, the current mayor, in the initial construction on Trebević. Sunnyland is located on 95 per cent of the territory of East New Sarajevo, with only five per cent in the territory of Istočni Stari Grad. This is the starting point, and Mr. Ćosić has thus ensured logistics in obtaining approvals in the relevant ministries. This proves that politics is involved in this major construction, and these approvals would not be given without the influence of these institutions dominated by the SNSD,” says Tadić to Valter.

In response to our portal, the mayor of Istočno Sarajevo, Ljubiša Ćosić, states that “a distinction must be made between the sale of municipal land and the actual construction.”

“The change of ownership of real estate itself may not necessarily be a problem. However, in the case of construction, the Decision on the Declaration of a Nature Park and Protection Zones must be taken into account. The Public Institution Nature Park ‘Trebević’ was formed with the aim of protecting this mountain, and it will do so, with the absolute and unequivocal support of the City Administration of Istočno Sarajevo and me as the mayor,” claims Ćosić for our portal.

 

Mayor Ćosić’s response to Valter

However, Ljubo Tadić comments on this with the following words:

“Mayor Gašanović is just an executor here. Unfortunately, even with these cranes on Trebević, it can be seen that politics, both local and at the RS level, is behind it.”

Incidentally, Gašanović faces as many as 14 criminal charges for “negligent work,” about whose outcomes the competent authorities remain silent. In fact, there are no outcomes.

Tadić testifies to Valter that Gašanović stated during a municipal assembly session in 2019, “that he managed to resolve 10 criminal charges and has four left.” One of them is directly related to the devastation and destruction of Trebević and was submitted to the District Prosecutor’s Office in Istočno Sarajevo by the criminal police of the RS Ministry of Internal Affairs in 2020. The police report was filed against the mayor Bojo Gašanović and others on suspicion of causing damage to the municipality amounting to 1.2 million KM.

Bojo Gašanović (Photo: private archive)

However, the fate of these charges is unknown because the Prosecutor’s Office declined to answer Valter’s questions.

RECIPE FOR CEMENTING TREBEVIĆ

Incidentally, Gašanović and others are accused of, during the period 2014-2017, while performing their duties, “organizing the sale or exchange of real estate and other building land owned by the municipality of Istočni Stari Grad, thereby obtaining a property benefit of at least 1,260,099 KM, for which amount the municipality of Istočni Stari Grad was also damaged.”

Gašanović and his associates continued their work, and no one mentions the one million and 200,000 marks anymore, while parcels are still being divided. Meanwhile, the Municipal Assembly of Istočni Stari Grad, on the occasion of the municipality’s patron saint day, awarded the highest municipal recognition to Milorad Dodik.

Regarding the devastation and destruction of Trebević and its nature, as mentioned, the Republika Srpska Legal Office remains silent. There is no clarification on whether the conditions for concluding contracts between the Municipality and investors have been met.

Inspectors, likewise, do not react.

Ljubo Tadić, as he says, is not surprised by this, based on his previous experiences with Ratko Đurović and Ljiljana Šešlija from the inspection authorities of Istočno Sarajevo.

“They will do everything to prevent the annulment of construction permits issued without the consent of regulatory plans in terms of floor area and obtaining all necessary permits. There is no response or action on my last two reports sent in 2022 and 2023 for the Glog Hill, which speaks to a kind of solidarity among them,” concludes Tadić.

On both sides of Trebević, it is a protected zone, and according to all laws, devastation, as well as deforestation and inappropriate construction for commercial purposes, is prohibited. If you go today, for example, to Glog Hill, you will see machines working on a firebreak, building a sewer network with buried pipes, and numerous adjacent plots for construction. Whether among them are these latest 40 – is still unknown.

This will remain unknown for now because even the mayor of the Municipality of Istočni Stari Grad has not responded to our questions.

In the story of Trebević’s devastation, authorities in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, namely the Sarajevo Canton, from where investors often come, should not be exempted.

The best example is the construction of the large residential and commercial building, Roof Gardens, on the slopes of Trebević, with a special view of Sarajevo. The facility is located in the territory of the Republika Srpska entity, and the necessary construction permits were issued before declaring part of Trebević in the RS territory as a “Protected Natural Area,” further complicating the overall situation and the application of appropriate legal regulations.

Roof Gardens from the air.

The document “History of the Republic Administration for Geodetic and Innovation-Legal Affairs (RUGIP) Banja Luka, Branch Office Istočni Stari Grad” reveals sales contracts documenting changes in ownership. The chronological sequence of events is as follows: In 2016, the owner Republika Srpska changed its name to the municipality of Istočni Stari Grad. In the same year, the Municipality of Istočni Stari Grad changes its name to Termograding d.o.o. Gacko, which, after two years, in 2018, will be transferred to the owner Senad Spahić.

A year later (2019), Spahić changed the contract to Simfono Group d.o.o. Sarajevo, and in 2020, Simfono Group changed its name to Roofgarden Assets d.o.o. Sarajevo. Finally, the document states that in 2021, there is a “change from the culture of forests 2 to reeds and marshes,” and Roofgarden Assets d.o.o. becomes Roofgardebs d.o.o.

Facsimile of the document “Istorijat”

This is the recipe by which tall buildings spring up for commercial purposes, ruthlessly threatening nature, while those who decide on the destruction and concreting of Trebević become enormously wealthy.

Watch Valter’s short film below, featuring statements from witnesses and evidence of ecocide and the devastation of Trebević Mountain.

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