News 18 Feb 14

Bosnian Prosecutors Admit Bungling Srebrenica Cases

Sarajevo prosecutors said they couldn’t ask Belgrade to launch two cases against Bosnian Serbs accused of involvement in the Srebrenica massacres because they forgot to get all the witness statements.

Denis Dzidic, Marija Tausan
BIRN
Sarajevo

The state prosecutors’ office said on Monday that it had withdrawn its proposal to send two Srebrenica cases for prosecution in Serbia, where the suspects live, because it did not have all the required witness statements.

“Through additional analysis we have seen that we need to obtain statements from injured parties or information about reasons why we cannot obtain them, and we have not delivered them to the court. Since we have forgotten to obtain this information for hundreds of victims, we are withdrawing our request,” the Bosnian prosecution said.

The announcement last week that the cases would not be transferred to Serbia, raising the possibility that the accused may not face justice, caused outrage among Srebrenica victims’ groups.

According to the agreement between Bosnia and Serbia, in order for war crimes cases to be transferred from one country to the other, it is necessary to obtain consent from the injured parties or provide reasons why it is not possible to get it.

The prosecution said it had obtained a statement from the Mothers of Srebrenica and Zepa Enclaves victims’ group, but then realised that this was not enough because it “cannot replace statements by injured parties in this concrete case”.

The prosecution said it had withdrawn its proposal to send the case to Serbia until it had obtained all the necessary evidence.

The Bosnian prosecution should have ceded the cases to the Serbian prosecutors under the terms of a protocol on cooperation in war crimes cases signed in 2013, which was meant to stop perpetrators with dual citizenships escaping justice by hiding in neighbouring countries, as Bosnia and Serbia do not extradite their citizens.

According to the charges filed by the Bosnian prosecution, Milidragovic, a former commander of a squad from the Bosnian Serb police special brigade’s Jahorina Training Centre, and Golijanin, a former deputy commander of a Jahorina Training Centre squad, committed genocide against Bosniaks from Srebrenica between July 10 and July 19, 1995.

The prosecution accuses Milidragovic of killing a disabled Bosniak man during a search of the Potacari area near Srebrenica on July 12 and then taking a group of 15 to 20 men away from their families and killing them in a nearby meadow.

He is also charged with ordering the shooting of about 100 Srebrenica captives in the village of Kravica.

Golijanin meanwhile is accused of participating in the capture of several thousand Bosniaks.

He is also charged with ordering Jahorina Training Centre squad members to execute 15 to 20 captives by the side of the road leading from Konjevic Polje to Bratunac, and personally participating in the executions.

Meanwhile, Milisav Gavric, who was a deputy police commander in Srebrenica in 1995, is accused in a separate case of committing, abetting, ordering and supporting criminal acts whose goal was the persecution of the Bosniak population on national, ethnic and religious grounds.

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