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War crimes court asked to investigate 7 suspects in Srebrenica execution video

2005-06-02 18:51:00

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War crimes court asked to investigate 7 suspects in Srebrenica execution video
02:40 PM EDT Jun 03

BELGRADE, Serbia-Montenegro (AP) - Prosecutors asked a war crimes court Friday to investigate seven men suspected of being the killers seen this week in video footage of the Srebrenica massacre of 1995.

Ten suspects were arrested after the video was aired Wednesday on Serbian TV. Four remain in custody, and three suspects are still at large. Two others may have fled the country, said Bruno Vekaric, a spokesman for the war crimes prosecutors' office.

The video, shown first at the UN war crimes tribunal at The Hague, Netherlands, and then broadcast on TV, depicted the executions of six men and boys.

The amateur footage, apparently shot by Serb troops, shows six males in civilian clothing taken from a truck, their hands tied, and then lined up on a hillside. Then, four are shot one by one in the back. Two others are ordered to carry the bodies into a nearby barn before they, too, are killed.

Vekaric said the six have been identified by name and that all were from Srebrenica, the Bosnian Muslim enclave overrun by Serb troops in July 1995. Four were minors and two were younger than 30. All were severely "tortured and maltreated for a longer period of time" before the execution at the hands of Serb paramilitaries known as Scorpions, he said.

In Bosnia, family members identified two of the victims as Azmir Alispahic, 16, and Safet Fejzic, 17.

Vekaric said evidence indicates the executions took place near Trnovo in southeastern Bosnia, at the foot of Mount Treskavica, about 20 kilometres south of Sarajevo.

Vekaric said a total of 10 suspects were arrested in Serbia this week after the video aired on TV. Six were released, but four remain in custody: former Scorpions commander Slobodan Medic, 38, also known as Boca, and three members of his paramilitary force: Pero Petrasevic, Aleksandar Medic and Aleksandar Vukov.

In Bosnia, prosecutors said one man was taken into custody Friday near Sarajevo in connection with the killings. He was not identified.

If tried and convicted for the murder of Srebrenica Muslims and war crimes against civilians, the men could face up to 40 years in prison. Serbia's law does not allow the death penalty.

The U.S. Embassy in Belgrade praised the "rapid and vigorous action" by Serbian police in arresting the suspects, and welcomed Belgrade leaders' pledges to "ensure that these and other perpetrators face justice for ... war crimes."

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