BANJA LUKA, Bosnia-Herzegovina (AP) — Bosnian Serb police dispersed dozens of protesters who stayed in the streets Sunday after thousands rallied in support of a man who helped launch a movement for justice and rule of law while pursuing the truth about his 21-year-old son’s death.
Bosnians inspired by Davor Dragicevic’s quest demanded the ouster of the Bosnian Serb interior minister and top police officials over the death in March of Dragicevic’s son David.
Demonstrators gathered at a central square in the main Bosnian Serb city of Banja Luka and then marched through the downtown area.
Police intervened when some protesters remained after the demonstration broke up. Local media said several people were detained. Videos from the scene showed riot police rounding up several people at the scene.
Davor Dragicevic has accused Serb police officials of protecting his son’s killers and says he won’t leave a central square in Banja Luka until his demands for their replacement are met.
Police initially said Dragicevic’s son’s death was a suicide, but the young man’s family insists he was killed by someone else. Prosecutors opened a homicide investigation that is still underway.
“There is no turning back. I have nowhere else to go,” Dragicevic told the crowd that came out to support him. “It’s New Year’s, Christmastime, but where is my David?”
Bosnian Serb officials have denied shielding suspects in the case. The Serb member of Bosnia’s multi-ethnic presidency, Milorad Dodik, has described the protests as “political.”
Tensions have soared in the Serb-run part of Bosnia since Tuesday, when police briefly detained Dragicevic and several other people. Bosnia consists of Serb and Muslim-Croat entities that were created after a 1992-95 war.
Dragicevic on Sunday reiterated his allegations of a police cover-up of his son’s killing.
“I will stand here as long as it takes,” he said.
After the main rally, the father’s supporters marched through the city chanting “We are with you Davor” and booing as they passed government buildings.
Dragicevic’s “Justice for David” movement has inspired months of anti-government protests that reflect popular discontent over corruption and unemployment in the Balkan nation.