News 08 Jun 17

UN Prosecutor: Bosnia Nationalists ‘Glorifying War Criminals’

The chief war crimes prosecutor for the former Yugoslavia warned the UN Security Council that nationalists in Bosnia and Herzegovina are still denying the truth about crimes committed during the 1992-95 war.

Serge Brammertz. Photo: OSCE.

Serge Brammertz, the chief prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals (MICT) told the UN Security Council on Wednesday that war criminals are still being treated as heroes by nationalists from various ethnic groups in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

“The message of denial and revisionism is loud and clear. We recognise our victims, but not yours. Your war criminals are our heroes,” Brammertz said.

He cited a recent declaration by the education minister in Bosnia’s Serb-dominated entity of Republika Srpska that he would ban textbooks teaching students about the recent past, including the Srebrenica genocide and the siege of Sarajevo.

“These facts are taught in classrooms around the world, but not in the country where the crimes were committed,” Brammertz pointed out.

He also cited a concert in the ethnically-divided Bosnian town of Mostar on Thursday by Croatian nationalist singer Marko Perkovic ‘Thompson’ in support of six Bosnian Croat officials convicted of war crimes by the ICTY, whose case is now on appeal.

Brammertz said that the denial of wartime crimes must be dealt with as a matter of urgency.

“When irresponsible officials use division, discrimination and hate to secure power, conflict and atrocities can gain a logic of their own. That was true two decades ago when the genocide and ethnic cleansing began, and it remains true today,” he said.

He also said that with the ICTY’s impending closure at the end of this year, it was more important than ever to address this challenge.

“To secure a peaceful future, there must be a shared agreement on the recent past,” he said.

He further warned that cooperation between former Yugoslav states on war crimes prosecutions is still inadequate.

“I have previously reported that regional judicial cooperation in war crimes justice in the former Yugoslavia is heading in the wrong direction, and that is still the case today,” he said.

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