DID YOU KNOW?  -- Three years before the 1995 Srebrenica Genocide, Serbs torched Bosniak villages and killed at least 3,166 Bosniaks around Srebrenica. In 1993, the UN described the besieged situation in Srebrenica as a "slow-motion process of genocide." In July 1995, Serbs forcibly expelled 25,000 Bosniaks, brutally raped many women and girls, and systematically killed 8,000+ men and boys (DNA confirmed).

03 July, 2008


Updated Version / Expanded Edition
Additional reporting includes reactions from Naser Oric

"I am sorry that, as you put it, Serbs feel unhappy and angry. However, I don't think like that. To me, there is other side, political side who thinks like that," said Naser Oric to ATV, as reported by Serbia's B92.

The former commander of Bosnian defence forces in Srebrenica, Naser Oric, was cleared by a UN Court Thursday of war crimes against Serbs - a decision he hailed as vindicating his men.

Serbian government propaganda has been particularly active in justifying Srebrenica genocide by claiming that over '3,000 Serb civilians' were murdered around Srebrenica. This type of propaganda has long been discredited by the International Criminal Tribunal, Serbia's Human Right Watch, and Bosnia's State-level Research and Documentation Center. About 151 Serbs died around Srebrenica, compared to more than 8,400 Bosniaks. The figure of "3,000 Serb civilians," which Srebrenica genocide justifiers constantly cite, was originally propagated by another Srebrenica genocide denier, Milivoje Ivanisevic from Belgrade. Ivanisevic himself contributed to the horrific massacres by supplying Serb Army with bogus lists of the so called "war criminals from Srebrenica" in 1995.

In 1992, Srebrenica was flooded by thousands of Bosniak refugees. It was a UN-protected enclave until July 11, 1995, when it was overrun by Bosnian Serb forces who then forcibly expelled tens of thousands of refugees, and killed more than 8,000 men, children, and elderly.

In 2006, Oric was initially found guilty of failing to prevent his subordinates killing 6 Bosnian Serb prisoners and maltreating others held in Srebrenica in 1992 and 1993 - a period of war when Serb forces were committing massacres and ethnic cleansing against the predominantly Bosniak population of Podrinje and Eastern Bosnia. At that time, he was freed upon sentencing, having spent more than three years in custody awaiting trial. Both Oric and the prosecution appealed the sentence.

Smiling broadly on Thursday, Oric told journalists: "Of course, I am very happy." "We expected this, everyone who followed the trial expected the outcome," he said through his English-speaking legal representative Vasvija Vidovic. Spending three years in detention was "part of my destiny," said Oric, adding: "Life goes on."

"I am sorry that, as you put it, Serbs feel unhappy and angry. However, I don't think like that. To me, there is other side, political side who thinks like that," said Naser Oric to ATV, as reported by Serbia's B92.

"And since I am a soldier, I know that Serbs... true Serbs who are also soldiers, know well that I fought them fair and square on a battlefield. Therefore, I don't think they are jelaous because of my acquittal; they knew for a long that I was never a war criminal, and that I was a soldier fighting on a battlefield for survival, and nothing else," - said Oric.

Asked whether the judgment vindicated the Bosniak defence of Srebrenica, he said, "I don't think the Bosniak defenders of Srebrenica committed real crimes. We were just fighting to survive, fighting for our lives."

Schomburg said the prosecution had failed to prove a link between Oric and the crimes allegedly committed by soldiers under his command. "Criminal proceedings require evidence establishing beyond reasonable doubt that the accused is individually responsible for a crime before a conviction can be entered," said Schomburg.

The families of more than 8,000 Srebrenica genocide victims welcomed the ruling.

"The evidence that Naser Oric is innocent have always existed and I think it is inequitable that he spent almost four years in jail,"said for Fena on Thursday the president of the Association of Mothers from the enclaves of Srebrenica and Zepa, Munira Subasic.

"How could someone ... question the one who defended himself at the site of genocide?" asked Munira Subasic.

Abduraham Malkic, Srebrenica Municipality mayor, on the occasion of the acquitting verdict for Naser Oric, gave announcement saying that the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in Hague (ICTY) showed the character of the conflicts on the territory of Srebrenica.

Commenting on the decision, Srebrenica Mayor Abdurahman Malkic said the judgment proved that the Bosnian Army was never involved in the systematic and organized crimes against Serbs in the Srebrenica area.

Associations of demobilized soldiers from the Bosnian Army also welcomed the chamber's decision and called for the urgent arrest of Bosnian Serb war crimes suspects still at large.