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5 Jun, 2021 21:37

WATCH: Christian Orthodox church DEMOLISHED in Bosnia after Bosniak woman who owns the land wins 20-year legal battle

WATCH: Christian Orthodox church DEMOLISHED in Bosnia after Bosniak woman who owns the land wins 20-year legal battle

A Serbian Christian Orthodox church that was built on a Bosniak woman's land near Srebrenica has been razed by local authorities under a court order, concluding a decades-long legal dispute stemming from the 1992-1995 Bosnian War.

Local authorities used a crane to remove the cross on top of the white church's dome, then cut open the tower to bring down and save the bell on Saturday. A backhoe was employed to knock the building, turning it into rubble.

The European Court of Human Rights ruled in October 2019 that the local Republika Srpska government must remove the church and pay €31,000 to compensate the family of plaintiff Fata Orlovic. The church was built in 1998, two years before Orlovic returned to her village. Her family was expelled to Srebrenica – along with other Muslim residents of Konjevic Polje – during the war.

The 1995 Dayton Peace Accord ended the war and guaranteed the return of land to refugees. Orlovic, whose husband was killed during the Srebrenica massacre, returned to her property in 2000, and discovered an Orthodox church in what used to be her yard. She refused to accept money as compensation for the church site and urged her children to never sell the lot.

Orlovic then took the matter to court, and the case became widely publicized and politicized.

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The US State Department has included Orlovic’s case in its annual report on international religious freedom for Bosnia and Herzegovina, while the Western mainstream media has dubbed the building an “illegal Serbian church.”

Orlovic's daughter Hurija Karic on Saturday called the church's demolition a victory for her "mother and the whole family and the whole of Bosnia-Herzegovina" in a comment to RFE/RL.

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Local authorities reportedly plan to rebuild the church at the village entrance. Bosnia-Herzegovina remains ethnically divided between mainly Orthodox Christian Serbs, predominantly Muslim Bosniaks, and predominantly Catholic Croats. Governance is divided between Republika Srpska and the Muslim-Croat Federation.

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