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Video Footage Opens Eyes To Horrors Of Srebrenica

Prague, 4 June 2005 (RFE/RL) -- A graphic video showing Serbian soldiers killing six Bosnian Muslim youths in 1995 has sent shock waves through the Balkans. The video, shown on Serbian television, brought back the horror for relatives of the Bosnian Muslims massacred at Srebrenica 10 years ago. And it's also prompted Serbian officials to acknowledge that Serbs committed war crimes during the Balkan wars of the 1990s.

On 1 June, Nura Alispahic turned on the television to watch the evening news in the Bosnian city of Tuzla.

What she saw was the execution, 10 years ago, of her teenage son, Azmir.

"It was the same as if he was killed that very moment in front of my eyes," Alispahic said. "When he was shot and fell I started shouting: 'My son, they've killed you! They've killed him in front of my eyes.'"

Azmir was one of six Bosnian Muslim youths killed in the video, filmed near the site of the 1995 Srebrenica massacre.

In it, Serbian paramilitary soldiers line up four youths and then spray them with bullets. Two others are ordered to move the bodies before they, too, are killed.

The graphic film has sent shock waves through Serbia since it was broadcast on television.

It was the first such material to be shown in Serbia from the massacre in Srebrenica, where Bosnian Serb troops overran the enclave and killed more than 7,000 Muslim men and boys.

A poll last month showed over half of the population refused to believe the massacre even took place.

But, after seeing the video, many have begun to change their minds.

These were the views of two Belgraders:

Man: "Thousands of people suffered there [in Srebrenica] and we must bring the perpetrators to justice if we want to go to Europe."

Woman: "It is disgusting. The video itself is disgusting. But I am wondering why it hasn't been shown before, that nobody here knew about it. Why didn't human rights activists show it a long time ago -- or if not them, the authorities, at least?"

The video has also prompted Serbian officials to confront the past.

President Boris Tadic told the nation the images were "proof of a monstrous crime committed against persons of a different nationality."

Within a day, 10 suspects were arrested in connection with the video.

But the film is also a reminder that those responsible for the Srebrenica massacre are still on the run.

The alleged masterminds are the wartime Bosnian Serb commander Ratko Mladic and his political leader Radovan Karadzic.

On 3 June, the UN's chief war crimes prosecutor, Carla Del Ponte, said the video again underlined the need for their arrest.

"I think that the video, the horrendous pictures that we saw Wednesday, that are related to the genocide in Srebrenica in July 1995, recalls to all of us that we cannot wait any longer to have Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic in The Hague," Del Ponte said.

The 10th anniversary of Srebrenica, on 11 July, is just weeks away.

Having Karadzic and Mladic in The Hague by then, Del Ponte said, would be the best way to pay tribute to Srebrenica's victims and their families.

(compiled from wire reports)

Copyright (c) 2005. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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