When Croatian forces liberated the JNA barracks in Bjelovar on 29 September 1991, most JNA soldiers there surrendered, while Tepić refused. Instead, he destroyed the ammunition depot, killing himself, 11 Croatian defenders, and dozens of JNA conscripts as well as endangering local civilians.
Tepic, who was in charge of the ammunition depot in the village of Bedenik, had planned to blow up all four warehouses at that location but was prevented from doing so by four Croatian soldiers, whose intervention prevented an even bigger disaster.
Banja Luka Mayor Draško Stanivuković on Sunday unveiled a plaque commemorating Tepić, describing him as “the last Yugoslav national hero.” The plaque was unveiled on the occasion of the day of the Serb entity of Republika Srpska, January 9, a holiday that was declared unconstitutional by the BiH Constitutional Court several years ago.
The Croatian Foreign Ministry on Monday deplored the decision by Banja Luka city authorities, saying that “it glorifies a terrorist act by a person who, during the Great Serbian aggression against Croatia, knowingly caused the death of a large number of Croatian defenders and civilians and huge material destruction in Bjelovar.”
The ministry said the Banja Luka city authorities thus “identify themselves with the criminal Great Serbian policy” and jeopardize “the process of building mutual trust and good neighborly relations.”
Streets in many Serbian towns have been named after Tepić and in September 2017 a monument was unveiled to him in Belgrade.
Serbia’s former foreign minister and now Parliament Speaker, Ivica Dačić, said at the time that “as a JNA officer, Tepić, “who had pledged allegiance to the state and answered for the lives of the young men in his unit, personified honor and integrity.”
The unveiling of the plaque in Banja Luka was also condemned by the Croatian War Veterans Ministry, which said that the city authorities have thus confirmed that they promote the Great Serbian ideology.
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