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Serbian leader to face genocide charge for Srebrenica massacre

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Thursday, July 11 marks the 18th commemoration of the massacre of more than 8,000 Muslim in Srebrenica during the Bosnian war.

While the Bosnians observed the massacre anniversary with the burial of 409 victims of the Srebrenica massacre 18 years after their death, the International Criminal Tribunal in the Netherlands reinstated a genocide charge against the Serbian leader Radovan Karadzic linked to the massacre at Srebrenica.

Radovan Karadzic
Radovan Karadzic
(Image by (From Wikimedia) Mikhail Evstafiev, Author: Mikhail Evstafiev)
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Radovan Karadzic by Wikipedia

Srebrenica was a UN-protected Muslim enclave until July 11, 1995, when it was overrun by Bosnian Serb forces. Dutch peacekeepers in the so-called "safe area", where thousands of Muslims from surrounding villages had gathered for protection, helplessly looked on as the massacre unfolded. The Serbs loaded thousands of men and boys on to trucks, executed them and then threw their bodies into mass graves over five days in July 1995 .

The decision on Thursday reversed the former Bosnian Serb leader's acquittal last year on one of the two genocide charges he faces. Karadzic, 68, now faces 11 charges, including two counts of genocide as well as accusations of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The first genocide charge relates to a campaign to "permanently remove" Bosnian Croats and Muslims from towns and cities, collectively referred to as Bosnia's "municipalities", and claim the land as Bosnian Serb territory.

A second genocide charge covers the 1995 genocide at eastern Bosnia's Srebrenica, where thousands   Muslim men and boys were slaughtered and buried in mass graves. Estimates on the number of victims vary. A commission set up by Republika Srpska identified 8,372 victims, while the Association of Mothers of Srebrenica recorded 10,701. The Srebrenica genocide is considered the worst single atrocity during the wars in the former Yugoslavia, and the largest massacre committed in Europe since World War II.

The International Court appeal judges said there was evidence from meetings attended by Karadzic in the early 1990s "that it had been decided that one third Muslims would be killed, one third would be converted to the Orthodox religion and a third will leave on their own."

Karadzic is also being prosecuted at the court for his role in the 44-month siege of the Bosnian capital Sarajevo between May 1992 and November 1995 in which 10,000 people reportedly died. He faces charges for his part in taking hostage UN observers and peacekeepers and using them as human shields during a NATO bombing campaign against Bosnian Serb military targets.

At Srebrenica on Thursday, 409 war victims, including a newborn baby, were reburied in a sombre funeral service after their remains were identified nearly two decades after they were dumped in mass graves, Al Jazeerah reported.

Among the victims were 43 teenage boys and a baby that was born during the ordeal. They were laid to rest where victims are buried as their remains are gradually found in mass graves.

This year's commemorations bring the total of identified victims to 6,066, Al Jazeerah reported. Another 2,306 remain missing a decade after Bosnia began the process of identifying victims of the genocide through DNA testing.

Their remains were found in more than 300 mass graves in the area, according to Amor Masovic, head of Bosnia's Institute for Missing Persons. But officials say that many bodies are still unidentified.

About 100,000 people were killed during Bosnia's 1992-95 war, when Mladic's forces seized vast tracts of land and drove out non-Serbs. Fighting between Serb, Croat and Muslim forces tore the country apart.

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Author and journalist. Author of Islamic Pakistan: Illusions & Reality; Islam in the Post-Cold War Era; Islam & Modernism; Islam & Muslims in the Post-9/11 America. Currently working as free lance journalist. Executive Editor of American (more...)
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