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Bosnia Indicts Former Commander With Srebrenica Massacre

  • Stefan Bos

The state prosecutor of Bosnia has indicted a former Serb police commander for taking part in what has been described as Europe's worst massacre since World War II. He has been brought to Sarajevo where he is due to go on trial at the Bosnian war crimes court. Nedjo Ikonic allegedly oversaw the massive killings and detentions of Muslims in the Bosnian town of Srebrenica in 1995.

The office of Bosnian Prosecutor Milorad Barasin announced Saturday that it is convinced that the 45-year-old Ikonic supported the Srebrenica massacre of some 8,000 Muslims during the Bosnian war of the 1990s.

He had been in detention since his extradition to Bosnia in January from the United States, where he had been arrested on an international arrest warrant.

The prosecutor's office said that as a commander of a special police unit, Ikonic is now officially charged with "taking part in a joint criminal enterprise that aimed to kill men and boys."

He allegedly detained Muslims who tried to escape the eastern Bosnian town of Srebrenica through the woods. The prosecutor's office said Ikonic personally ordered, oversaw and supported the execution of over 1,000 Muslims who were held in a nearby village.

These killings took place after Srebrenica, which was a United Nations-protected safe zone, fell into the hands of Bosnian Serb forces in 1995.

But former Bosnian Serb president Radovan Karadzic, who is on trial in the Hague for his alleged involvement in the mass killings and other war crimes, has denied the Srebrenica massacre took place.

Former president Karadzic told the United Nations war crimes tribunal for the former Yugoslavia last week that Muslims had been lying. Radovan Karadzic said "Muslims have created a place of worship" in Srebrenica. He described the massacre as "a myth". He added that there are names of over 8,000 dead engraved in Srebrenica, although, he said, no more than roughly two and a half thousand people could have been buried there.

The former Serbian leader also suggested that Muslim human remains were brought from far away to Srebrenica to fabricate the figures. He said he hopes he will not be punished over the killing of, in his words, "a few Muslims" by Serbs.

Survivors of what has been viewed as Europe's worst single atrocity since the Holocaust hope Radovan Karadzic, and others, will be punished soon.

They say "He makes again a circus from this court. How long can this manipulation continue?"

The Bosnian war crimes court was set up in 2005 to relieve the burden on the Hague-based tribunal and speed up prosecutions. It has put dozens of Bosnian Serbs on trial over Srebrenica. Twelve have been jailed, seven acquitted and seven are still being tried.

However former Bosnian Serb commander Ratko Mladic, whose forces allegedly carried out the massacre, remains at large.