News 13 Dec 17

Serbian Court Delays Srebrenica Massacre Trial

Belgrade Special Court delayed a hearing in its landmark Srebrenica war crimes trial, sparking an altercation between a Serb defendant and the Bosniak wife of one of the victims.

Filip Rudic
BIRN
Belgrade
Belgrade Special Court. Photo: BIRN

The court decided on Wednesday to postpone the trial of eight former Bosnian Serb policemen for the massacre of Bosniaks from Srebrenica in the village of Kravica in 1995 because it had not received documents from the Appeals Court related to defendants’ possible complaints about previous procedural decisions.

"We have no faith in this court," said Suhra Sinanovic, president of the Association of Women of Podrinje-Bratunac, who lost her husband and relatives in Kravica.

After the hearing was delayed over the technicalities, Sinanovic told BIRN that the court should have passed a sentence long ago, and called the murders of Bosniaks in Kravica an act of genocide.

While exiting the courtroom, one of the defendants shouted "Long live Serbia", to which Sinanovic responded: "Long live Bosnia and Herzegovina."

At the previous hearing in November, the Special Court decided to restart the Kravica trial from the beginning, instead of continuing where the process left off before it was temporarily halted by a higher court.

Eight former members of a Bosnian Serb special police unit stand accused of organising and participating in the shooting of more than 1,300 Bosniak civilians in an agricultural warehouse in the village of Kravica near Srebrenica in July 1995.

Nedeljko Milidragovic, Aleksa Golijanin, Milivoje Batinica, Aleksandar Dacevic, Bora Miletic, Jovan Petrovic, Dragomir Parovic and Vidosav Vasic are accused of committing a war crime by killing Bosniak prisoners who were captured after Srebrenica fell to Bosnian Serb forces.

Their trial opened in February this year but the original charges were dismissed in July because they were not filed by the authorised prosecutor, as the Serbian war crimes prosecutor’s position was vacant at the time.

The new war crimes prosecutor, Snezana Stanojkovic, then filed a motion to continue the trial, but this was rejected by the Higher Court.

The Higher Court, ruling however, was overturned by the Appeals Court in October, allowing the trial to continue.

The killings in the warehouse in Kravica were among several massacres by Bosnian Serb forces after the fall of Srebrenica in July 1995 that left some 8,000 Bosniak men and boys dead.

The Bosnian prosecution previously launched genocide indictments against Milidragovic and Golijanin, but couldn’t arrest them because they have been living in Serbia since the war in Bosnia ended in 1995.

After Serbia and Bosnia signed a protocol on cooperation in war crimes in 2013, evidence from the Bosnian prosecution was transferred to Belgrade.

However, the Serbian prosecution said it couldn’t prove the genocide charges laid by the Bosnian prosecutors and instead charged the men with committing a war crime.

Serbia does not accept that the Srebrenica massacres constituted genocide, despite rulings by international courts.

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