Jezik / Language:
7 June 2016

Bosnian Court Closes ‘Srebrenica Genocide Denial’ Trial

Dzana Brkanic BIRN BiH Sarajevo
In order to prevent potential unrest, the trial of a Serb victims’ association leader for inciting hatred by describing the Srebrenica genocide as “God’s justice” will be held behind closed doors.
State court judge Biljana Cukovic closed the trial of Milan Mandic, president of the Serb Association of the Missing of the Sarajevo Region, to the public on Tuesday in order to preserve “public order and peace”.

Mandic is charged with inciting ethnic, racial or religious hatred among the ‘constituent peoples’ of Bosnia and Herzegovina (Bosniaks, Croats and Serbs) for a statement he gave in 2014 in which he denied that the massacres of Bosniaks from Srebrenica by Bosnian Serb forces were genocide.

Along with Mandic, the Bosnian prosecution has also charged three members of staff at the Elta TV station which broadcast his remarks - Dejan Rakita, Marijana Savic and Mira Kostovic - along with the company that operates the channel, Stijena Herc.

Defence lawyers Dragisa Jokic and Vlado Adamovic said the court should close the proceedings to the public, since details of the case might provoke “ugly” reactions in the media and on social networks.

“We hope this trial will be closed so that we do not hear anything bad about any of the [ethnic groups in Bosnia],” said Jokic.

Adamovic said that the defendants and witnesses could be insulted online if the case was heard in public.

“This can serve as cannon fodder for social networks. These comments will develop into a much worse criminal act than the one described in the indictment. With all due respect, these issues are for experts, and not the public,” said Adamovic.

The prosecution objected to the proposal, but the judge accepted the defence’s arguments.

Mandic is charged with inciting hatred because in his statement he implied that the 1995 massacres of Bosniaks were divine retribution for the killings of Serbs in the Srebrenica area in previous years.

If found guilty, Mandic could receive a sentence ranging from three months to three years in prison.

Bosnia and Herzegovina does not have a specific law forbidding the denial of genocide and crimes against humanity.

A draft law has been put before the state-level parliament several times, but voted down by lawmakers from Republika Srpska, where the issue of whether Srebrenica constitutes genocide is contested despite verdicts from both international and domestic courts.

In July 1995, Bosnian Serb forces attacked the UN-protected area, killed more than 7,000 men and boys, and expelled 40,000 women, children and elderly people.
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