World News

Sarajevo prosecutor indicts 14 Bosnian Muslims over war crimes against Serbs

SARAJEVO (Reuters) - Sarajevo prosecutors indicted 14 Bosnian Muslim wartime army officers and soldiers for alleged murder, torture and persecution of Bosnian Serb civilians around the town of Konjic during the country’s 1990s war.

Ten of the indicted men are already in detention, the Sarajevo state prosecutor’s office said in a statement on Thursday.

“Fourteen defendants are accused of war crimes including murder of several dozens Serb civilians, both men and women of different age, torture, robbery and persecution of nearly the whole Serb population from the Konjic area.”

Bosnian Serbs, Bosniak Muslims and Croats alike committed war crimes during Bosnia’s 1992-95 conflict, though the majority of those convicted by local and international war crimes courts have been Serbs.

The war began in 1992 when Bosnian Serb forces, in response to a Muslim-Croat vote for independence from Serbian-led federal Yugoslavia, attacked cities and towns aiming to carve out an ethnically pure Serb state.

Bosniaks joined forces with Croats in regions where they were in a majority, such as Konjic, from which they persecuted Serb inhabitants, but they later fought each other.

More than 100,000 were killed and about 2 million driven from their homes during the war.

Also on Thursday, the prosecutor’s office indicted four Bosnian Serb army officers for alleged genocide against Muslims who were fleeing the eastern town of Srebrenica after it fell into Serb hands in July 1995.

Serb forces commanded by General Ratko Mladic slaughtered more than 8,000 Muslim men and boys from Srebrenica, the worst atrocity in Europe since World War Two. Mladic was jailed for life for the massacre by a U.N. war crimes tribunal last month.

The four ex-Serb officers from the eastern town of Vlasenica are accused of stopping a convoy carrying Muslims fleeing Srebrenica, separating men from women and robbing them.

“The women were raped and sexually molested, while more than 20 men were taken and detained in a nearby school, where...they were kept in inhuman conditions...and on July 13-14 (1995) taken and executed in the village of Mrsici,” the prosecutor’s office said in a statement.

Earlier this month, it indicted another four Bosnian Serb former army officers from Vlasenica, including the town’s current mayor, for murder, torture and persecution of nearly the whole Bosniak population in the town.

Reporting by Daria Sito-Sucic; Editing by Mark Heinrich