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25. 04. 2024.

Author: Jelena S. Spasic ???source???: UNS

UNS’s files on murdered and missing journalists: How TV Belgrade war reporter Dusan Tepsic (30) died near Obudovac on November 22, 1992, and how his tapes with footage from the front ended up with the Croats

Evil Fate of Traveler on the Corridor

He had a singing career ahead; the war made him a journalist for Serbian Radio Petrova Gora from Vrginmost and a war reporter for Television Belgrade.

Dusan Dusko Tepsic was 30 years old when he died on November 22, 1992, on the infamous “Corridor”, where he was from the first day of the breakthrough aa a TV Belgrade war reporter. This unusual man, whom the war took to serious and deadly journalism, faded into oblivion for more than three decades. The oblivion also includes the fact that tapes with footage from the front, which he took with himself to Television Belgrade, and which ended up with the Croats, also disappeared from the place where he got killed in Obudovac, which was under the Serbian control.

His death, as is the case with many journalists and thousands of other victims, remains unpunished to date.

- Dušan Tepsic was born on December 24, 1962 in Vrginmost, Kordun, Croatia. While still in primary school, he lost his father Gojko, and his mother Milka raised her only child alone.

- Dusko attended the high school of geodesy in Zagreb, then he enrolled in the higher geodesy school, which he never graduated. He never pursued his profession, he was occupied with singing, he also made a record just before the war. His was also interested in folklore dance and he danced in “Lado” in Zagreb, and from the age of fifteen he played volleyball in the local club “5th October” - says Predrag Nenezic for UNS, a native of Vrginmost who lives in Canada, and whose best friend Tepsic was supposed to be best man at the wedding, but the war broke out.

After he released a record, a few months before the outbreak of the war, he was hired by the radio Glas Petrova Gora in Vrginmost, which became Serbian radio Petrova Gora in 1991.

-  Duško radiated positive energy. He lived for music; he would have probably become a successful singer if he had lived. The anchor and journalist work came with the war. I brought him to the radio seven or eight months before the war. He hosted entertainment programs and was the editor of the music program. In the beginning of the war, he became an excellent war correspondent from the host of music shows – the editor-in-chief of radio Petrova Gora Nada Jaksic told UNS.

Songs that foreshadow sadness

In 1990, Tepsic recorded the record “Yellow Rains”, based on the song with the same name, and while making it, he collaborated with Marina Tucakovic and her husband Aleksandar Radulovic Futa.

- He was occupied with singing, and as he had a very assertive character, he managed to reach Marina Tucakovic from Vrginmost, who wrote his verses, and Futa, who composed songs. He visited Marina and Futa even during the war, he told me their children loved him - says Predrag Nenezic and adds that a few days before leaving for, as it turns out, the last trip, Dusko told him he didn't feel like going at all.

Dusko liked being photographed, says Ljubomir Pavlovic, who always carried a camera along with his tv camera. “Come on, take a photo of all of us, who knows how long we’ll be around, or if we’ll ever see each other again”, Dusko used to say wherever we were and I was reluctant to take his photo because there were indeed many people, I had photographed who died”, says Pavlovic.

Svetozar Dancuo says that even the choice of songs with which Dusko opened the show was like a premonition.

- While he hosted “Zeljoteka”, which ran on weekends from 11, he always played Dzej’s song “Sunday” as the first track. When you hear the lyrics of the song and that of “Yellow Rains”, everything is really sad - says Dancuo and states that the commemoration in Obudovac started on “Sunday” and ended with “Yellow Rains”, the verses of which are carved on his tombstone.

But, before “Sunday”, as at all commemorations for the people of Kordun since the Second World War, the song “On Kordun, there are graves to graves” was sung.


In 1992, the war brought him an official position in the then Republic of Srpska Krajina (RSK).

- He was in Martic’s cabinet (Milan Martic was at the time Minister of Internal Affairs in the RSK government, author’s note) a journalist and he did footage for TV Belgrade. I don't know what that position was called, but he often traveled to Belgrade, and he did reports from both Bosnia and RSK. He stopped by our place as well, but he stayed more in Knin and Belgrade - Jaksic says. 

The well known “Operation Corridor 92” then happened, the largest during the war of the Army of the Republic of Srpska, which at the time was called the Army of the Serbian Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina. By breaking through that narrow passage, the western and eastern parts of the former Serbian Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina were joined, i.e. the road from Krajina and further towards Serbia, which until then was held by Croatian forces. The corridor was breached on June 26, 1992, and the operation officially ended on October 6. However, that was not the end of the fighting, and thus the loss of life.

- Fights were fought until October 6 west of the Bosna River, in ​​the municipalities of Derventa, Bosanski Brod and Odzak. The territory there was cleared, but to the east of the Bosnia River, where our Second Posavina Brigade carried out combat operations, a pocket remained in the territory of the municipality of Orasje. In terms of depth, as the crow flies, it was approximately eight to nine kilometers from the Sava, and from west to east 12 to 15 kilometers. Every day there were some battles until the Dayton Agreement, - Radovan Zoranovic from Obudovac, who during the war was a battalion commander from the Second Posavina Brigade of the Army of the Republic of Srpska, says for UNS, and today he is the president of the Samac Municipal Veterans Organization.

He also says there were several regular brigades of the Croatian Army (HV) and four or five brigades of the Croatian Defense Council (HVO).

- On our side, there was the Second Posavina Brigade and Krajina units, because that area was rather narrow. From Samac to Brcko, the corridor was only about four to five kilometers wide, sometimes even just one kilometer. Hundreds and thousands of people, the wounded, trucks, goods were passing through it on a daily basis. To the north, we were conducting operations against the Croats, and to the south, we had the Army of BiH (Bosnia and Herzegovina). We had about 10,000 people, and they had between 10,000 and 20,000. But these numbers changed in different periods because forces were shifted to other parts of the front depending on the needs. Shells were falling daily, sometimes up to 500 in 24 hours, even 1,000 of various calibers. But we didn't stay silent”, says Zoranovic, adding that their brigade alone had about 500 casualties during the war.

On November 22, 1992, Dusan Tepsic also travelled on the corridor. This time, he was alone although during the war he was inseparable from cameraman Ljubomir Pavlovic, also from Vrginmost. Before the war, Pavlovic filmed weddings and birthdays as an amateur cameraman, and later joined Radio Petrova Gora, where he started working for TV Belgrade with Tepsic.

- Dusko saw there were no news reports from the front lines in the news program. He went to Belgrade, got accreditation and everything else, so he could go everywhere. Since they didn't allow me to go anywhere, he got me accreditation too, and we worked together for TV Belgrade. We struggled to send material. There was no electricity in the radio station; we worked with the help of a generator. We reviewed the material, then sent it via a link from Banja Luka, for whose television we also worked. Or from Bihac. A Croat working for TV Banja Luka stole our footage and forwarded it to Zagreb. From Bihac, we sent only two clips, which were stolen from us and forwarded to TV Zagreb, after which Bihac came under Muslim control”, says Pavlovic for UNS.

According to Pavlovic, the duo from Vrginmost was on the front lines of the corridor from the first day and filmed everything.

- When we returned from the corridor, Dusan was appointed Deputy Minister of Information of the RSK (Republic of Srpska Krajina). We all then got the RSK militia badges; that's how we had to work. Dusko always wore camouflage uniform but also had a “press” badge on his jacket, Pavlovic explains, adding there is a picture of him in a shirt with the RSK militia emblem but with the inscription “press service” on Tepsic’s tombstone.

Health issues prevented Pavlovic from traveling to Belgrade with Tepsic.

- I had back problems and was receiving injections in Vrginmost when Dusko said he was going to the so-called second corridor, i.e. the pocket that remained under the Croats, and further to Belgrade because he had been tasked to make a 20-25 minute report on the breakthrough on the corridor. We had to go to Belgrade because we had nowhere to edit the footage. He took six tapes with recordings of operations on breaking through the corridor. He also took some other tapes because we covered everything - Knin, Dalmatia, Lika, Kordun, Banija. Everything except Vukovar and eastern Slavonia. Dusko left, and I told him I would come as soon as I got those injections. There was a regular bus line to Belgrade, through Vrginmost”, says Pavlovic, adding that Tepsic also took another camera and a photo camera with him, so he recorded fighters along the way.

On that journey, he also passed through Obudovac, a place halfway between Samac and Brcko. He stopped by to see Krsto Zarkovic, a man from Krajina and at the time the commander of the Slavonia militia unit.

- I knew him from before, an exceptional guy. On that day he was in command, talking with me and another colleague, showing us footage from the front lines, carrying tapes with him. I remember as it happened today, he was driving a red “Renault 4” and was heading below the center of Obudovac. It was afternoon, maybe 2-3 o'clock. I distinctly remember the pine tree next to which he died. He stopped there, in front of the fence where the schoolyard and churchyard meet. A shell came from the Croatian side, from Domaljevac, it is a town on the Sava River on the Bosnian side, and at the time it was under the control of the HVO (Croatian Defense Council). The grenade certainly didn't come from across the Sava. As soon as it exploded, we all ran over, but he was already dead. He was wearing a camouflage shirt, a brown belt, but also a ‘press’ badge, just like the vehicle had a ‘press’ sign”, Zarkovic, who lives in Banja Luka, tells UNS.

“The Obudovac residents were awakened by the cannonade of enemy artillery. Shells were falling in the center, behind the school, on Barice, and further on, in Kojici and Cilase, and then “moved” to Pelagicevo and Letnica - Covic Polje... The artillery attack continued into the afternoon. One woman was lightly wounded, and one Krajina man more seriously, along with material damage”, it is written in Zoranovic’s diary for November 22.

That man from Krajina, who succumbed to his wounds, was Tepsic. Zoranovic didn't know him.

- I only found out his name two years ago. He was just a passerby, like many others every day. Some say he took a break when the shell fell. According to the information I have, there was another man with him in the car, I don't know who. That man survived. I've heard that Tepsic went with recorded material from the Brcko front, but whether someone took over the material, I don't have that information”, says Zoranovic, who also sent us a photograph of the war diary for that November 22, while Zarkovic believes that Tepsic was alone in the car.

Ljubomir Pavlovic also emphasizes that the tapes were in Tepsic’s car and that they disappeared when he was killed.

- When I watched a program on Croatian television, I saw two of our tapes on the table in front of Ivica Pandza Orkan, a colonel of the Croatian army, which had my handwriting, that ugly, specific one. There were six tapes of recorded material labeled Bosnia 1, Bosnia 2..., which were in Dusko's possession at the time of his death. And I saw two of them in front of Orkan. He then talked on HTV about them having many tapes, how they are evidence, and thanks to them, some people should be prosecuted. I don't know how the tapes ended up with him”, Pavlovic explains, adding that Tepsic also had a diary with him, where he wrote everything, which also disappeared when he was killed.

A lot of material, he claims, which they filmed, later appeared on Croatian television.

- Vidusevac is a village near Glina, it was strategically important; the JNA (Yugoslav People’s Army) was there, but also volunteers. And there was our footage from Vidusevac with the Croats, with their comments, or as they said their documentary film, - says Pavlovic, who lives in Sombor.

Orkan has long been boasting about the material he has, even 11 years ago he told “Vecernji list” how he collected as many as 700 video tapes. He sent some of them to the Hague Tribunal, while he used some of them for making six documentary films, as he said back then. He also told that he was wounded on August 4, 1995.

- After leaving the hospital, one of my soldiers brought a video tape. It was an amateur recording showing Serbian soldiers entering the village of Vidusevac, where it's clearly visible how the church is set on fire and plundered”, Orkan told “Večernji list” about the same video that Pavlovic talked about.

Nada Jaksic also says that many of Tepsic’s tapes disappeared after his death.

- I remember Dusko's mother told me how she asked Martic and others for Dusko's belongings from the room where Dusko stayed and got nothing. There probably was also an archive, like in Vrginmost. The fact is that some recordings later appeared in Croatian media. How and when they got them - I don't know. We all arrived in Serbia after “Operation Storm”, I can't know what the Croats did in Knin and Vrginmost afterwards. In the end, many tapes disappeared, - Jaksic emphasizes.

Pavlovic points out with bitterness:

- He died, was brought home, buried, and after that, no one said a word about him.

Sniper Also Mentioned

Nada Jaksic says that Dusko’s mother was informed that her son died from a sniper.

- When Dusko was killed, local police officers came to inform his mother and told her he was killed by a sniper, in that narrow passage. No one dealt with his death because many died, it was wartime”, Jaksic says. According to Ljubomir Pavlovic, his mother went with Duško’s mother to take over the body.

- My mother and his mother took his clothes off, they say his death wasn't from a shell, but I didn't see the body. On top of all, there's not a single photo from the scene of the accident, - says Pavlovic, while Zoranovic emphasizes it couldn't have been a sniper, that it was definitely a shell. Zarkovic is of the same opinion.

- There was no sniper; it's impossible because the place of death was several kilometers away from the front line. So, it was not a sniper 100 percent certain because if it were, the only possibility would have been from the Serbian side, and that disgrace fortunately did not happen”, says Zarkovic.


And it's really like that. The name of Dusan Tepsic, as of someone who died in the war, is mentioned in only a few places. There are merely two sentences in the UNS files about journalists and media workers from Serbian media killed or abducted since 1991. Not much has been known about him until now. Tepsic is also on the list of killed journalists in the Balkans from the early nineties on the website https://last-despatches.balkaninsight.com/, where it is only stated that he was killed in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The document submitted by Serbia to the International Court of Justice, in the case of Croatia's lawsuit against Serbia for genocide, also lists the name of Dusan Tepsic among Serbian victims in Croatia from 1990 to 1998 (https://www.icj-cij.org/public/files/case-related/118/18196.pdf), where he is registered as a policeman.

The public hadn't heard much about this journalist until last summer when, just 150 meters from the place of his death, a plaque dedicated to Dusan Tepsic was placed in the memorial complex dedicated to the people from Obudovac who died in all wars. The initiator was Svetozar Dancuo from Vrginmost, who lives in the USA. He knew Tepsic from the young age, and he even worked with him in the radio. Some people who were in Obudovac at the time of his death attended the commemoration, as well as some from Vrginmost. He has no family left; his mother passed away a little earlier in Batajnica, where she had fled after “Operation Storm”. According to her last wish, her urn was taken to Vrginmost.

- The place where Dusan Tepsic died is a symbol of the suffering of journalists and the impunity of crimes against journalists and media workers. The killing of Dusan Tepsic and other journalists can be considered a crime that happened twice - when a journalist was killed and when no one was held accountable for that murder, - said Slobodan Radicevic, president of the Executive Board of UNS, at the commemoration in June in Obudovac.

All our interviewees claim that no investigation into Tepsic’s death was ever conducted - one death more or less in the whirlwind of war. Krsta Zarkovic adds to this:

- A Krajina Serb, from the Croatian territory at the time of his death, a citizen of Yugoslavia which no longer exists, killed on the territory of the Republic of Srpska – he’s practically stateless. Unfortunately, no one cares about his death.

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