The Bosnian Serb government issued an apology Wednesday for the 1995 massacre of 7,800 Muslim civilians in Srebrenica, saying it “shares the pain” of the victims’ families.
The apology came after the government reviewed a Bosnian Serb commission’s final report on the worst massacre of civilians in Europe since World War II. The government session was last month, but the conclusions were not made public until Wednesday.
“The report makes it clear that enormous crimes were committed in the area of Srebrenica in July 1995,” the Bosnian Serb government said.
“The Bosnian Serb Government shares the pain of the families of the Srebrenica victims, is truly sorry and apologizes for the tragedy.”
Although Bosnian Serbs have long been blamed for the massacre, it was not until this past June — after the Srebrenica commission’s preliminary report — that Serb officials acknowledged that their security forces carried out the slaughter.
The commission’s final report has not yet been made public, although the government has revealed some of its conclusions. Officials have said the report acknowledges that the mass murder of 7,800 Muslim men and boys by Bosnian Serb forces was planned.
A call to ‘face the truth’
The Bosnian Serb government said it was determined to “face the truth about the recent tragic conflict in Bosnia-Herzegovina” and “take decisive steps to force all persons who committed war crimes to face justice.”
Several Bosnian Serbs have been indicted by the U.N. war crimes tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands, for their roles in the Srebrenica killings.
Those who were tried at the tribunal either surrendered or were arrested by NATO peacekeepers. None was apprehended by the Bosnian Serb government.
Most of the 20 fugitives still sought by the tribunal for alleged war crimes are presumed to be hiding in the Bosnian Serb territory.
Still wanted: Karadzic and Mladic
The top war crimes suspects are Bosnian Serb wartime leader Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic, his top general, both indicted for genocide and crimes against humanity in Srebrenica and elsewhere during the 1992-1995 Bosnian War.
The peace agreement that ended the war left the country divided into a Bosnian Serb mini-state and a Muslim-Croat federation. Both have separate governments, police and army and are linked only by joint state institutions.
The Bosnian war pitted Serbs opposed to Bosnia’s independence from the former Yugoslavia against Muslims and Croats backing it. The conflict claimed about 260,000 lives and left around 20,000 missing and presumed dead.