The family men from Bosnia’s most infamous prison

NEWS 05.04.2018 15:25
Source: N1

There is always a way to find love and maintain it. Even from behind the bars of a prison cell in Zenica’s closed-type prison.

The prison in Zenica, a town in central Bosnia northwest of the capital, is talked about a lot and is even mentioned in some locally well-known songs. It opened nearly 130 years ago and survived five political systems.

Many would describe this prison as a place for ‘the worst of the worst’. Today, it is home to almost 800 inmates who are serving time for a variety of crimes, such as murder, theft and extortion. But others, who have not broken any laws, are also frequent guests.

Those are the wives and girlfriends of people who managed to find and keep love, even from behind bars.

“I got married in prison,” said Baki Bicevci. “I went out on a free weekend and met a girl. For me, she is the most decent and most beautiful woman,” he tells.

Bičevci is now married for three years already, and the couple has a son named Benjamin.

“Today he is six months and nine days old. I’m counting his days. I’m not counting mine,” he said.

“Since he was born and since I am with this woman, I’m a different man. As if I’m not in prison,” he added.

But Bičevci is in prison for 11 years already and he has another four to go.

“I regret it, of course. After a while I realized there are other ways to make money,” he said.

And he is not the only one who found his soulmate while in prison.

Prisoner Nedzad Secic already has a son and a daughter from before he began serving his sentence. He met his wife while serving in Tuzla, before being transferred. Her brother did time with Secic for a short while and introduced him them. They are together for five years already.

Secic has lived longer behind bars than as a free man because of a variety of crimes he has committed, including extortion, attempted murder and drug dealing. He is to be released in a few months.

“I have regrets. I’ve spent some 17 – 18 years here. Those were my best years and I spent them here,” he said.

Another prisoner, Nikica Varivoda, arrived in prison already wearing a wedding ring. He is not the usual type of prisoner one can meet here. He has a university degree. Convicted of murder, Varivoda has to spend another decade behind bars.

“I pleaded not guilty. I am a family man, I have a wife and a child. I miss them every day,” he said.

He especially longs for his daughter because she is sick – she had a heart surgery in Vienna. This made jail time particularly hard for the father.

“You hear that she is sick, but you cannot be there, you cannot help,” Varivoda said.