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I PAID A SURREPTITIOUS VISIT to Gaga's Muslim neighbor, Fikreta Ramic, in whose apartment he had died. Fikreta is an elderly Muslim woman with a slight limp and sharp, light-blue eyes. She invited me in but was clearly frightened.

"It's just like the commander told you," she said in monotone. "Gaga killed himself. He was sitting in my living room. I left to make coffee and then heard a shot. I ran to a neighbor's shouting 'Gaga is dead. He's shot himself.' I never went into the room until they took his body away."

"He was good," she added, almost as an afterthought. "He helped me and others. Except for when he was drunk. Then no one could control him."

Fikreta told me that Gaga intervened when Serb police harassed her and her daughter, and that he brought them valuable provisions like coffee and cigarettes.

She confided that she was preparing to flee to the Muslim (government-controlled) side. I agreed to smuggle some of her possessions across the battle lines and deliver them to a friend. I didn't see her again. In March, 1996, Serbs torched Fikreta's apartment when they withdrew from Grbavica.

This brief encounter, Fikreta's nervous gestures, the mystery of Gaga's death--these things would haunt me for the next two years.

Next: The Investigation Resumes

Images: Fikreta (Link: Fikreta with a relative, jpeg 34k)

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