Envoy slams Bosnian Serb leader for massacre denial

SARAJEVO — The international community’s top envoy in Bosnia on Wednesday slammed Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik for denying some of the bloodiest wartime massacres for which Serbs were held responsible.

“Any attempt to change the established historical record of war crimes is unacceptable and inexcusable,” said Valentin Inzko, the high representative here in a joint statement by the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the Council of Europe.

International officials condemned “in strongest terms statements by the Republika Srpska Prime Minister Milorad Dodik denying the nature of war crimes” that took place in Tuzla and Sarajevo during the 1992-1995 war, the statement said. Dodik said last week that the 1995 massacre in the northeastern town of Tuzla in which 71 people were killed when a single mortar shell exploded in front of a cafe was “staged.”

“Many analyses say … that it was a planted explosion,” the local SRNA news agency quoted Dodik as saying.

Dodik said the dead bodies had been brought to the scene and the entire event had been staged, according to SRNA. He added that two massacres at Sarajevo Markale market were also staged in a similar manner.

In 1994 a mortar shell fired from Serb positions around Sarajevo killed 68 people at the market. It was shelled again in August 1995 when 42 people were killed.

The atrocity prompted NATO airstrikes against Bosnian Serbs that forced them to peace negotiations. The war ended in November 1995 after US-sponsored talks in Dayton, Ohio.

The UN war crimes tribunal in The Hague and a Bosnian court sentenced to long jail terms three Bosnian Serb generals for war crimes that included the Markale market and Tuzla massacres.

Meanwhile, Dodik’s spokeswoman insisted he only wanted that “not only regarding these cases but rather regarding the whole war, the full and real truth, free from political pressures and improvisations, be established.”

“We can build the future of this country only on the truth. There cannot be three truths,” spokeswoman Biljana Bokic told AFP. She was referring to Bosnia’s three ethnic communities — Croats, Bosniaks and Serbs — who fought each other during the war.

Post-war Bosnia consists of two highly autonomous entities — the Serbs’ Republika Srpska and the Muslim-Croat Federation, each with its own government and a weak central adminstration.