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Gaga Is Dead

FOR A YEAR I witnessed the civilian slaughter in Sarajevo and the city's slow strangulation. Though I sought to keep my emotional distance as a journalist and outsider, it was clear to me from the first day of the war on which side I stood as a human being. I had heard that Gaga was fighting with the Serbs--fighting against the Sarajevo we once shared. The rumors troubled and saddened me.

As a journalist, I was able to cross the battle lines to see Gaga, but I couldn't bring myself to make the trip.

In July, 1993 I finally visited Serb-held Grbavica. I asked around about Gaga--the neighborhood is a small enough place--but everyone feigned ignorance. One Serb commander acted as if he had never heard of Gaga, though I knew this to be a lie. Then the commander remembered, oh yes, Gaga had been killed by a sniper.

By now suspicious, I asked to see the army's death register. It exposed another lie. The hand-printed ledger said Predrag Bundalo died of a single gunshot wound to the head, an apparent suicide of "undetermined circumstances."

When I asked more questions I was told to leave Grbavica.

A mutual friend in the Bosnian Serb headquarters of Pale hinted that Gaga had been murdered.

"They're lying, all of them," M. said. "Gaga didn't kill himself, someone killed him. Why the hell would the pistol be missing if he killed himself? No one wants to talk about it because they know the ugly truth."

"Why would anyone murder my friend?" I asked.

"Ask the Muslims. His neighbors. Gaga was protecting them. There were a lot of people who weren't happy with that."

Next: More Questions

Images: Gaga's burial (All link to larger images; jpegs 28k, 49k, 22k)

See also: Grbavica video, a brief tour of the Grbavica neighborhood

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