The trial of eight former Bosnian Serb police officers charged with involvement in the massacre of Bosniaks in the village of Kravica near Srebrenica in July 1995 was stopped on Thursday after the Belgrade appeals court threw out the charges.
The court said that charges were dismissed because they were not filed by the authorised prosecutor, since the Serbian war crimes prosecutor’s position was vacant at the time, Beta news agency reported.
The charges were filed on January 21, 2016, when the previous war crimes prosecutor, Vladimir Vukcevic, had already retired, and his replacement had not yet been selected.
The new war crimes prosecutor, Snezana Stanojkovic, was apointed in May this year. She now has to file new charges, which have to be accepted by the court before a new trial is scheduled.
The eight former members of a Bosnian Serb special police unit went on trial in February this year, accused of organising and participating in the shooting of more than 1,300 Bosniak civilians in an agricultural warehouse in the village of Kravica near Srebrenica in July 1995.
Nedeljko Milidragovic, Aleksa Golijanin, Milivoje Batinica, Aleksandar Dacevic, Bora Miletic, Jovan Petrovic, Dragomir Parovic and Vidosav Vasic were accused of committing a war crime by killing Bosniak prisoners who were captured after Srebrenica fell to Bosnian Serb forces.
The killings in the warehouse in Kravica were among several massacres by Bosnian Serb forces after the fall of Srebrenica in July 1995 that left some 8,000 Bosniak men and boys dead.
So far more than 1,300 civilians who were massacred in Kravica have been identified. Their bodies were found in several mass graves in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The Bosnian prosecution previously launched genocide indictments against Milidragovic and Golijanin, but couldn’t arrest them because they have been living in Serbia since the war in Bosnia ended in 1995.
After Serbia and Bosnia signed a protocol on cooperation in war crimes in 2013, evidence from the Bosnian prosecution was transferred to Belgrade.
According to the charges filed by the Bosnian prosecution, Milidragovic, a former commander of a squad from the Bosnian Serb police special brigade’s Jahorina Training Centre, and Golijanin, a former deputy commander of a Jahorina Training Centre squad, committed genocide against Bosniaks from Srebrenica between July 10 and July 19, 1995.
However, the Serbian prosecution said it couldn’t prove the genocide charges laid by the Bosnian prosecutors and instead charged the men with committing a war crime.