Vaso Čubrilović was a Bosnian Serb politician and scholar. In 1914, he was a student in Sarajevo, when Danilo Ilić recruited him and his friend, Cvjetko Popović, to help assassinate Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria. His brother, Veljko Čubrilović, was also involved in the plot. Like Princip, he was a member of Young Bosnia, an underground organisation with the aspiration of the creation of a southern Slav state free from both Ottoman and Hapsburg influence.
He lived until the year 1990, over 75 years after the assassination, dying at the age of 93 as the last surviving participant in the conspiracy to assassinate the Archduke.
On Sunday, 28 June 1914, the Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie, Duchess of Hohenberg were assassinated in Sarajevo. The fatal shots were fired by a Bosnian Serb, Gavrilo Princip, who wanted Bosnian unification with Serbia and independence from the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Princip and Nedeljko Čabrinović were captured and interrogated by the police. They eventually gave the names of their fellow conspirators. Muhamed Mehmedbašić managed to escape to Serbia. Vaso and Veljko Čubrilović, Danilo Ilić, Cvjetko Popović and Miško Jovanović were arrested and charged with treason and murder.
Eight of the men charged with treason and the murder of Archduke Franz Ferdinand were found guilty. Under Austro-Hungarian law, capital punishment could not be imposed on someone who was under the age of twenty when they had committed the crime. Čabrinović, Princip and Trifko Grabež therefore received the maximum penalty of twenty years in prison. Vaso Čubrilović got sixteen years and Cvjetko Popović thirteen years. Miško Jovanović, Danilo Ilić, who was a member of the Black Hand, and Veljko Čubrilović, who helped the assassins kill the royal couple, were executed on 3 February 1915.
He wrote a letter to his sisters from a Zenica prison explaining how it came about that he was involved in one of the most notorious assassinations in history and of the fall out -
- "When I was arrested and detained at Dubica, I admitted giving it [my bomb] to Ivo [Kranjcević] - Ilić had already betrayed Đukić and Popović. As you can see, we all betrayed each other. [-] In my opinion the assassination turned out well, considering who they gave the job to. In any event, it wasn't our intention to cause a world war, and we truly believed just a couple of Serbian officers sent us the weapons"
- —An extract of the letter to his sisters