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Muslim Leader in Bosnia Asks to Reopen Genocide Case Against Serbia

PARIS — The Muslim member of Bosnia’s tripartite presidency on Thursday asked the highest United Nations court to reopen a 2007 case that cleared Serbia of genocide during the war in Bosnia.

The request by the Muslim member, Bakir Izetbegovic, is likely to fan the simmering political tension in a region still torn by the war that broke up Yugoslavia in the 1990s.

Nationalists and pro-Serb secessionists in Bosnia, who have received support from both Serbia and Russia, could be emboldened by the move, critics said.

Moscow has been courting Serbia and Bosnian Serbs, while also covertly intervening in neighboring Macedonia and Montenegro, as it tries to regain its historical influence in the Balkans.

In 2007, the International Court of Justice ruled that while a massacre in the Bosnia city of Srebrenica, where Bosnian Serb forces killed nearly 8,000 men and boys in 1995, was genocide, it did not find proof that Serbia was responsible for the killings.

But the court said that Serbia violated the Genocide Convention because it should have prevented the genocide and punished the military commander, Gen. Ratko Mladic.

The request to review the case was filed Thursday at the court, which is based in The Hague and settles disputes between nations.

The brief argues that the court should review its findings because new evidence about Serbia’s wartime role has become available in numerous trials at another international court, according to Phon van den Biesen, the lead lawyer of the team.

Specifically, he said, in the trial of General Mladic, the evidence “in its entirety” offers the most complete view of the war, “because Mr. Mladic’s hands were on all important events in Bosnia.”

His trial at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia ended in December, but a verdict is not expected until later this year.

Prosecutors in the Mladic case said they had included new details about Serbia’s secret strategy behind its brutal ethnic cleansing campaign to gain more land for Serbs in Bosnia and Croatia.

In 1992, at the height of that campaign, nearly 45,000 people were killed or declared missing, almost half of the 100,000 who died in the Bosnian war.

(c) New York Times 2017

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