Bosnia to appeal UN genocide ruling that exonerated Serbia

Appeal could spark a political crisis

Gravestones of victims of the Srebrenica massacre. Photo: Shutterstock

Gravestones of victims of the Srebrenica massacre. Photo: Shutterstock

Bosnia will appeal a UN court ruling that cleared Serbia of blame for genocide, the Muslim Bosniak member of the country's presidency said today, despite a warning by his Serb and Croat colleagues that it would spark a political crisis.

The 2007 judgment by the International Court of Justice exonerated Serbia of direct responsibility for killings, rapes and "ethnic cleansing" in Bosnia during the violent breakup of Yugoslavia in the 1990s, though it said Serbia had failed in its responsibility to prevent genocide.

The ICJ ruling also concluded that genocide had occurred at Srebrenica, where about 8,000 Muslims were slaughtered by Bosnian Serb forces, though not in other parts of Bosnia.

Bakir Izetbegovic, a member of Bosnia's three-man presidency that also includes Serbian and Croatian representatives, has engaged a lawyer without their consent to prepare the lawsuit ahead of a 10-year deadline that falls on Feb. 26.

"The request for (revision) will be filed next week," Izetbegovic, who heads the largest Bosniak party, SDA, told a news conference after meeting legal experts and war survivors.

"We are interested in the truth and the process of reconciliation based on the truth," he said, adding that the goal of the appeal was to prove that genocide was so widespread that it could not be limited only to Srebrenica.

The lawyer will present new evidence, including material from the trial of Ratko Mladic, the former Bosnian Serb general facing charges at the U.N. war crimes tribunal in The Hague over his role in the Srebrenica massacre.

"All we want is justice and we have the right to it," said Kada Hotic, who lost her son, husband and two brothers in the genocide.

On Tuesday the Bosnian presidency's Serb chairman Mladen Ivanic said that an appeal would violate the country's constitution and further widen divisions among the rival ethnic groups which fought the 1992-95 war.

Government officials in Serbia, which provided financial and logistics support for Bosnian Serb troops during the war, have also said renewed legal action would further sour relations.


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