[Used with Permission from Srebrenica Genocide Blog.]
Srebrenica massacre is the first legally established case of genocide in Europe by the international courts. It is considered the largest mass murder in Europe since the World War II and one of the most horrific events in recent European history. The slaughter of Bosniaks at Srebrenica is recognized as the gravest atrocity to take place in Europe since the Nazi genocide.
The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) has ruled the Srebrenica massacre officialy a Genocide. Subsequently, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) confirmed ICTY’s ruling in a judgment of Bosnia vs Serbia.
Over 8,000 Bosniaks died in the Srebrenica massacre, mostly men and underage boys. Srebrenica massacre is unique among genocide studies in its approach, using individual-level data to identify every victim individually by comparing multiple highly reliable sources against each other (ICRC, IDC, Red Cross, local data, inquiries of surviving relatives, etc) and matching identities via DNA identification. Each victim is known by its first and last name, father’s name, date of birth, and matching JMBR number (unique citizen’s registration number, similar to the U.S. SSN or Canadian SIN).
The DNA identification of victims is ongoing process conducted by the International Commission on Missing Persons.
Bosnian Serb General Ratko Mladic and the political leader of Bosnian Serbs Radovan Karadzic have both been indicted for genocide, crimes against humanity and violations of the laws or customs of war at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia.
So far, two people have been convicted for Srebrenica genocide by the ICTY – Bosnian Serb general Radislav Krstic and Bosnian Serb Colonel Vidoje Blagojevic. Seven more individuals have been recently put on trial at the Hague and they are: Vujadin Popovic, Ljubisa Beara, Drago Nikolic, Ljubomir Borovcanin, Vinko Pandurevic, Radivoje Miletic and Milan Gvero, and recently aprehended fugitive Zdravko Tolimir (aka: ‘Chemical Tolimir’) who requested use of chemical weapons during genocide. At least eleven more individuals are on genocide trial in Bosnia-Herzegovina and they are: Milos Stupar, Milenko Trifunovic, Petar Mitrovic, Aleksandar Radovanovic, Miladin Stevanovic, Brano Dzinic, Slobodan Jakovljevic, Branislav Medan, Dragisa Zivanovica, Velibor Maksimovic, and Milovan Matic.
During sentencing of Bosnian Serb General Radislav Krstic on August 2nd 2001, the Presiding Judge Almiro Rodrigues stated:
“General Krstic, the crimes of which you stand accused are based on the events which occurred following the attack of the Serbian forces on the town of Srebrenica in July 1995. Srebrenica – the name of a town which has become synonymous with the conflict which devastated the former Yugoslavia. It is a name which immediately calls to mind thousands of people subjected to siege, famine and deprivation of everything – even water and time to breathe. The name of an enclave which the United Nations declared a safe area and which fell almost without a shot being fired. Srebrenica – a name which conjures up images one would prefer not to see: women, children and old people forced to climb into buses leaving for destinations unknown; men separated from their families, stripped of their belongings, men fleeing, men taken prisoner, men never to be seen again, men who would be found – but not always – dead, corpses piled up in mass graves; corpses with their hands tied or their eyes blind-folded – frequently; dismembered corpses as well; unidentified corpses … corpses. Srebrenica is also a name for a post-traumatic syndrome, the syndrome displayed by the women, children and old people who did not die and who, ever since July 1995, six years now, still have no news of their husbands and sons, fathers, brothers, uncles, grandfathers. Thousands of amputated lives six years later, robbed of the affection and love of their kin now reduced to ghosts who return to haunt them day after day, night after night. The Trial Chamber was presented with a great deal of evidence which could be called impressive…. In July 1995, General Krstic, you agreed to evil. This is why the Trial Chamber convicts you today and sentences you to 46 years in prison.”
On April 19th 2004, the Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia reduced Krstic’s sentence to 35 years and reaffirmed earlier ruling that the Srebrenica massacre was an act of Genocide. The Presiding Judge Theodor Meron stated:
“By seeking to eliminate a part of the Bosnian Muslims, the Bosnian Serb forces committed genocide. They targeted for extinction the forty thousand Bosnian Muslims living in Srebrenica, a group which was emblematic of the Bosnian Muslims in general. They stripped all the male Muslim prisoners, military and civilian, elderly and young, of their personal belongings and identification, and deliberately and methodically killed them solely on the basis of their identity.”
The Krstic ruling expanded the legal definition of genocide to cover mass killing on the basis of gender.While the defence argued that “the VRS [Serb Army’s] decision to transfer, rather than to kill, the women and children of Srebrenica… undermines the finding of genocidal intent”, in its final judgement the Appeals Chamber found that proof of intent to commit genocide by destroying the group physically or biologically was met “by the disastrous consequences for the family structures on which the Srebrenica part of the Bosnian Muslim group was based”.On November 10, 2004, the government of Republika Srpska issued an official apology. The statement came after government review of the Srebrenica committee’s report. “The report makes it clear that enormous crimes were committed in the area of Srebrenica in July 1995,” the Bosnian Serb government said.A Serb commission’s final report on the 1995 Srebrenica massacre acknowledged that the mass murder of Bosniak men and boys by Bosnian Serb forces was planned. The report recognized and gave details of the pre-planned murders.
On January 17th 2005, subordinate to Bosnian Serb General Radislav Krstic – Col Vidoje Blagojevic – became second indictee to be convicted on Srebrenica Genocide charges and other human rights violations. He was sentenced to 18 years in prison.On May 9th, the Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia ruled that Col Blagojevic had not been complicit in the genocide at Srebrenica because he had not known his troops intended to commit it. Blagojevic’s sentence was reduced to 15 years. On June 27, 2005, the United States House of Representatives passed a resolution (H. Res. 199 sponsored by Congressman Christopher Smith and Congressman Benjamin Cardin) commemorating the 10th anniversary of the Srebrenica genocide.The resolution was passed with overwhelming majority of 370 – YES votes, 1 – NO vote, and 62 – ABSENT. (Copy of the Resolution)On February 26, 2007, another United Nations’ court – the International Court of Justice (aka: World Court) – issued judgment in a case of Bosnia vs. Serbia ruling that Serbia failed to prevent the Srebrenica genocide and violated its international obligations by not handing over individuals accused of the crime.The court reaffirmed that the Srebrenica massacre was an act of Genocide committed by the Bosnian Serb troops, but dissolved Serbia of any direct responsibility for genocide.Serbia obtained court permission to keep parts of the evidence censored, citing national security, which may have decisively affected ICJ’s judgement in the lawsuit brought against Serbia by Bosnia-Herzegovina.You may read more about here: Serbia’s Darkest Pages Hidden from Genocide Court.
Used with Permission from Srebrenica Genocide Blog.