8 Serb suspects in Srebrenica massacre get 30-day detention

AP News
Posted: Mar 20, 2015 7:38 AM
8 Serb suspects in Srebrenica massacre get 30-day detention

BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) — A Belgrade court on Friday ordered a 30-day detention for eight suspects in the 1995 Srebrenica massacre whose arrests this week by Serbia's war crimes prosecutors have triggered angry reactions from right-wing nationalists.

The Belgrade Higher court said the suspects must remain in jail amid concerns they may flee or pressure witnesses. The men were arrested Wednesday and accused of taking part in the massacre of some 1,300 people at a warehouse on the outskirts of the Bosnian town Srebrenica during that nation's 1992-95 war.

The arrests, carried out by Serbia's War Crimes Prosecutor's office, which teamed up with colleagues in Bosnia — mark Serbia's first attempt to deal with the mass executions in Srebrenica. Serb forces killed some 8,000 Muslim men and boys in that town, Europe's only designated genocide crime since World War II.

The arrests have been hailed as an important step in postwar reconciliation, but Serbian nationalists promptly blasted the war crimes prosecutors for being anti-Serb. Many here still consider wartime Serb leaders as heroes and prosecuting war criminals remains a sensitive issue.

An official from the governing right-leaning party, Milovan Drecun, accused prosecutors of stashing away in a storage room evidence of war crimes against the Serbs, allowing those responsible for atrocities against Serbs in Croatia and Bosnia to escape justice.

"We are seeking an explanation from the prosecutors why this (evidence) was put in a storage room and wasn't handled and whether it was hidden," he said.

Another right-wing group, Dveri, demanded that Serbian War Crimes Prosecutor Vladimir Vukcevic and his deputy, Bruno Vekaric, be replaced. The two are "turning Serbian heroes into criminals," Dveri said in a statement.

Vekaric dismissed the accusations.

"The whole world has hailed the arrests, I am sorry to see that there are still people here who are against our work," he told The Associated Press.

More than 100,000 people were killed and millions left homeless in Bosnia's 1992-95 war when Bosnian Serbs, supported by neighboring Serbia, rebelled against Bosnia's declaration of independence from Serb-led Yugoslavia.