a citizen’s journal by Thomas Nephew

Video from Srebrenica massacre surfaces

Posted by Thomas Nephew on June 4th, 2005

Incredibly, a video has surfaced showing Serbian police torturing and killing six Bosnian Muslim prisoners during the course of the infamous Srebrenica massacre of 1995.

It’s estimated* that about 7,500 Bosnian men from that town were killed following its surrender during the war in Bosnia. The town was supposedly a United Nations “safe haven,” but a 600 man Dutch peacekeeping garrison stationed there for that purpose was taken hostage by Bosnian Serb forces under Ratko Mladic. Their failure eventually led to the resignation of then Dutch prime minister Wim Kok’s cabinet.

It’s almost as incredible as the discovery that excerpts from the video have been broadcast on Serbian television networks, following its display on Wednesday at the supposedly collapsed trial of war criminal-in-chief Slobodan Milosevic. (Ratko Mladic has eluded capture so far.)

Reporting for the New York Times, Nicholas Wood writes that the footage is a devastating refutation of both a common specific denial and a broader lazy denial that anything happened at all:

While the number of those killed represents a tiny proportion of those who died in July 1995, the video is being seen as irrefutable evidence that Serbia’s police forces, and not just Bosnian Serb forces, took part in the massacre, evidence that challenges the commonly held view among Serbs that the atrocity never took place.

Wood writes that a phone survey of 1200 Serbs in April “showed that more than 50 percent of respondents either did not know about war crimes in Bosnia, or did not believe they had taken place.”

Some of the perpetrators in the film have been arrested, but I wonder if there’s enough evidence and political will to get one particular co-conspirator:

The video shows a group of paramilitary police, called the Scorpions, being blessed by a Serbian Orthodox priest before they start their mission. (emphasis added)

* According to the Wikipedia entry, the exhumed body count has risen to 6,000.
UPDATE, 6/6/05: Additional details from Austrian newspaper reports posted yesterday.
NOTE, 6/10/05: The video footage begins at around 2 hours 35 minutes into the June 1 trial footage, with film of a military unit being reviewed; it’s interrupted by prosecution commentary. Things start to get bad at around 2:38:23.
UPDATE, 2/27/07: To its discredit the International Court of Justice has acquitted Serbia of genocide or even complicity in genocide at Srebrenica and elsewhere. Legal proceedings by the ICTY (Intl. Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia) against individuals like Mladic remain active. For this and other followups, click on the “trackback” link.

3 Responses to “Video from Srebrenica massacre surfaces”

  1. » Blog Archive » "Why are you trembling?" Says:

    […] « prior: Video from Srebrenica massacre surfaces next: German blogger series: EU Constitution referendum defeats » […]

  2. » Blog Archive » Department of followups: Serbian war crimes edition Says:

    […] Video from Srebrenica massacre surfaces, 6/4/05 — Serbian news agency B92 reports that “Slobodan Medic, Pera Petrasevic, Aleksandar Medic, Aleksandar Vukov and Branislav Medic have been indicted for war crimes against civilians allegedly committed on July 17, 1995.” I wonder whether any of these were the “Scorpion” paramilitary policeman who shouted at a victim, “What are you trembling for?” shortly before helping kill him. […]

  3. » Blog Archive » Srebrenica: 12 years on Says:

    […] MORE at this site: 06/04/2005: Video from Srebrenica massacre surfaces 07/12/2005: Srebrenica, 10 years later 02/26/2007: ICJ: Srebrenica was genocide. Serbian police […]

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