Ivica was shot in the head in 1996 on the counter-demonstration, the terrible scar remains: He is barely standing there today where he was laying down in the pool of blood, and he is still asking the same question
- How's your daughter, I hear that she is sick? - Ivica asked.
- She died. And my son is sick. He was born that way, with Down syndrome - Zivko said.
- My condolences, honestly - answered Ivica.
- I am not sleeping calmly. Do you know why I don't sleep calmly? Because of you. It is very difficult for me! It is very difficult, you know - said Zivko.
Ivica Lazovic (65) was shot in the head at the demonstration in Knez Mihailova street. Zivko Sandic (68), a man in that turmoil who was on the other side with the finger on the trigger. They met for the third time, face to face, and this time with a hug and the kiss, in front of the cameras of "Telegraf" in Begec, near Novi Sad.
- He was on the other side, and I was on this one, should we butcher each other?! Enough of that. Here, I am offering my hand and I will kiss him in front of you, in front of the cameras, Serbs should reconcile and let it never happen again to anyone - said Ivica Lazovic and a fateful kiss of reconciliation followed.
- What will you have for a drink? - Zivko asked Ivica.
- Do you want to try my brandy? Vine bitters. Here, I brought some for you. I will take it first so you can see that it is... - Ivica responds.
- Not poisonous, ey? - Zivko continues while laughing.
The cameraman and I had a tough task, to play a side role in this life drama and to organize a meeting of two people who actually never knew each other even before this fatal event.
Zivko Sandic, the man whose name was mentioned so many times in the stories about this event never spoke about it after the trial. We wanted to meet him and to let him speak what he thinks about that.
Deep, sharp look and with an upright posture. A bit wary, but with a brisk tongue. It seems that he is a man who is impossible to break, but his destiny was written with painful stories. The filming is possible, but only if that is done together with Ivica.
Everything went on its own somehow, we have informed Ivica and we headed for Begec two days later. Ivica agreed to meet under one condition, to quote his words: If one forgives, then God will forgive as well. To reconcile the Serbs".
However, impatience grew. When we headed out, Ivica was saying goodbye with his dogs, and he has brought a bottle of brandy.
- I am taking this to my friend - he said.
THE MOMENT OF MEETING
- I get the chills when I see him - said Zivko, serious, while the suspense grew.
He was supposed to greet the man in the next moment who he has shot.
- You look better, you seemed so robust in that coat - Ivica remembers, touching Zivka with one hand and smiling, while the other one is completely immobile, and it is hanging on his chest.
- I have heard that you are making brandy, I am making brandy as well - Zivko said.
It turned out that the two of them had made hundreds of liters of brandy, perhaps a ton when we put all together, and Zivko is also making Blackberry wine. He gave Ivica a 5l bottle as a gift.
- I want to drink your vine while I am alive. I don't care, I don't want to say some other words. I am condemning you for wine - said Ivica through laughter.
And there was laughter. They drank some brandy, another drink came along. Wholeheartedly atmosphere, as if it was the meeting of two friends. Zivko and Ivica immediately said that we won't talk about politics. But some of the painful questions emerged. Without emotions and anger, with cool heads.
- There is a man from Begec who wrote all kinds of things about me at that same time. But after 5-6 years he came to my home and apologized so much that it was crazy, he understood what the two leaders have done. Politicians are arguing in front of the people, and they are sitting together and they drink. I have retreated and I am not going anywhere, just around the house and the children... Let's talk about something else, I've had it with politics and everything - said Zivko.
And really, they were talking about brandy, wine, fireplaces that Ivica has created. We ate delicious Kulen by Zivko, and he explained how it is made, to the tiniest details, how much salt, how much pepper...
"I HAD NO INTENTIONS OF SHOOTING"
Suddenly, Ivica sad something and we all went silent. We returned to 1996.
- And now you see the similarity between me and him, you will hear now, he can just nod his head and he doesn't have to say anything. I saw a fire match there, I miss when I aim, and when I shoot from up close I hit. Are we there yet? Shopping mall Mitic? - he said as if he has stopped time.
- I know what you are getting at, but that's not how it happened. Honestly saying, I had no intentions. There is no video of me lying down, that wasn't recorded, my friend, when a man hit in the back I fell down and there were people around me. Here, I got chills down my spine. I got up and I thought of shooting in the air and they will move away. That is what happened, but when I was lowering my hand I didn't move my finger from the trigger, and a man behind me pulled my hand, and it went "beng"... there was a shot. They didn't find my bullet so they didn't prove in court that it was mine. A crowd of people, everybody ran, it was a disaster, man - Zivko remembers.
The gun that he was with was his. After that event, he never held a gun in his hands again.
"THE TEARS COME TO MY EYES WHEN I HEAR ABOUT THE CHILDREN"
Ivica was touched by the family tragedy of Zivko Sandic. He said that the tears come to his eyes when he hears about that because he too has two daughters and the family is sacred to him.
- You had it worse than I did. The God has punished you more... - said Ivica...
- Do you know how much he has punished me. It is a disaster for me. My daughter was completely healthy, beautiful as a doll... She died of cancer. I was depressed when she passed away, I prepared a rope to hand myself in the shed. It was terrible. Then I kept thinking and thinking... I have two grandchildren. I fight for them and that is everything for me - said Zivko.
- That is your destiny, you are a worse sinner than me - Ivica said in a calming voice.
- Well, it looks like that - said Zivko briefly.
- My father had me when he was fifty years old, my mother gave birth to me when she was forty, out of the nine children I was the youngest - Zivko continued his life story.
"IT WENT THROUGH MY HEAD, WHAT WOULD HAPPEN IF I REMAINED DISABLED"
The fate that stuck Ivica Zivak was frightening. Earlier, while there was a was in the former republics, he has seen everything.
- I have been on extractions for 13 months, I have worked in a hospital in the ambulance and they sent me with the doctors. Some didn't have a hand, some didn't have a leg, that one didn't have a head. After that, I came home and I thought., what would have happened if I remained disabled, if I was in a wheelchair? If a man dies, f*ck it, but what would my children do if I remained in a wheelchair - said Zivko.
And now, when he sees Ivica who is barely moving, it is not easy for him.
- Somehow, when I see him and when I remember my son, it is difficult for me. I am sorry, I have said that in the court as well - said Zivko the first day when we have met him.
WITHOUT THE FEAR OF REVENGE, JUST A RELIEF
It wasn't easy to wait for this meeting. Not for Ivica, not for Zivko, not for us. Two people who don't know each other, and who stood against each other at the wrong time, at the wrong place. How did they accept their fate after that, what kind of change happened in their heads which helped them withstand such pain, no one can even imagine that.
- When the trial happened for the first time, my lawyer said if he had some pretension for vengeance. That stuck in my head. He said, God forbid, no vengeance - Zivko remembers.
"Do you feel relieved now", asked the cameraman.
- Yes, I am relieved.
WE MET THANKS TO YOU
Zivko said that the thought about meeting with Ivica again. Thanks to us, he said, they met again. And I think that we, just as I said, played a side role as actors and witnesses.
- It is very difficult for me when I have seen him... getting out of the car, the way he is now. It is hard for me. And thanks to "Telegraf", we have reconnected in Begec, we kissed, we talked, so there is nothing more between us, what has happened will remain in the past.
Ivica, however, said that he had a vision, that he knew this would occur.
- Whether you believe me or not, I have dreamt all of this, I have seen all of this. I don't remember the characters, but I know that I have seen it. That is why I let you in my house, that is why I accepted all of this. I knew that everything will be alright - said Ivica.
Even before the meeting, he has said that he doesn't have anything to say to Zivko, that they can have a drink and that he will wish him all the best. And much more has happened.
- I am happy. It is harder for him, I guess we have made it a bit easier... He is a good man, normal, and he was used just like I was. Two rams on a log, no one wanted to back down, we stuck to our beliefs, and we both fell down into the channel - concluded Ivica.
As he said, he thanks all of those small people who helped him in his life.
THE STORY OF TWO MEN, VICTIMS OF AN ERA
Zivko Sandic was sentenced to two years and four months in prison after the shooting in Knez Mihajlova street. He was charged with causing general danger. There was no evidence that he attempted to commit a murder. Because of that, many don't believe in such a story.
It is not up to me to justify his action, nor to judge him. This is a story of two men, the victims of an era, which brought nothing good. That was a conflict, war. One moment of blurred reasoning could have led to such, and even more serious consequences.
After all, a person died on the same demonstration.
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(Telegraf.co.uk / Mateja Beljan / firstname.lastname@example.org)