News 07 Feb 18

Srebrenica Convict’s Role in Serbian State Event Condemned

Serbian human rights activists condemned the participation of former Bosnian Serb Army officer Vinko Pandurevic, who was convicted of wartime crimes in Srebrenica, in a state-sponsored event in Belgrade.

Filip Rudic
Vinko Pandurevic in court in The Hague. Photo: ICTY.

The Youth Initiative for Human Rights NGO said on Wednesday that the participation of Srebrenica convict Pandurevic at a state-sponsored discussion about Serbia-Kosovo relations was an insult to the victims of the 1990s wars.

“By giving a war criminal the legitimacy to speak in the public sphere, Serbian institutions again demonstrate continuity with warmongering policies,” the YIHR said in a press release.

The Serbian government’s office for Kosovo held the roundtable discussion on Tuesday in Belgrade, at which Pandurevic spoke about Serbia’s ‘internal dialogue’ on Kosovo, a process launched by President Aleksandar Vucic.

The YIHR called on the director of the government’s office for Kosovo, Marko Djuric, to distance himself from the promotion of war criminals.

Pandurevic, a former Bosnian Serb Army officer, was sentenced to 13 years for committing crimes in Srebrenica. Following his early release in 2015, he now lives in Belgrade with his wife and sons.

The Serbian authorities have given platforms to several freed war criminals and helped them become active participants in public life.

Former Yugoslav Army officer Veselin Sljivancanin, who served prison time for war crimes related to the fighting around Vukovar in Croatia, is a frequent guest at events held by President Vucic’s Progressive Party.

Another former officer, Vladimir Lazarevic, who served a sentence for war crimes in Kosovo, was invited to give a lecture at the national Military Academy.

Convicted war criminal and former deputy prime minister Nikola Sainovic was given an official position in the Socialist Party, which is the Progressives’ main coalition partner.

Serbian military officers who have denied accusations of war crimes in Kosovo have also been invited to serve as consultants on a documentary about two battles from the 1999 conflict which is being made by Serbia’s public broadcaster.

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