Bosnia police arrest seven Serbs suspected of 1995 massacre

SARAJEVO (Reuters) – Bosnia’s state police on Friday arrested seven former members of the Bosnian Serb wartime army suspected of taking part in the 1995 Srebrenica massacre of about 8,000 Bosnian Muslims, described as genocide by two international courts.

The suspects were arrested near the eastern town of Zvornik on suspicion of having committed a criminal act of genocide in the form of individual and command responsibility and assistance, the State Information and Protection Agency (SIPA) said.

Bosnian Serb forces led by General Ratko Mladic in July 1995 overran the eastern town of Srebrenica, which was declared a United Nations “safe heaven” for about 40,000 civilians from the area, and killed in the following days about 8,000 Muslim men and boys whom they first separated from the women.

The prosecutor’s office said the suspects were former commanders and members of the Bosnian Serb army´s Zvornik brigade, who are believed to have been involved in the shooting and killing of about 800 Muslim victims at the Orahovac site, following the fall of the eastern enclave.

Most of their remains have been unearthed from numerous mass graves scattered across the eastern Bosnia but many are still unaccounted for.

The Hague-based international war crimes tribunal for former Yugoslavia jailed Mladic for life in 2017 over the Srebrenica genocide, seen as Europe´s worst atrocity since World War Two.

The Bosnian Serb political leadership denies the crime was genocide and minimises the seriousness of Serb offences in the 1992-1995 Bosnian war.

On Friday, Serb war veterans from Zvornik threatened to launch protests and block roads because of the arrests, saying the Serb army had just protected “their own ethnic kin and fought for freedom” during the war.

About 100,000 people were killed and about two million people were moved from their homes during ethnic cleansing campaigns in Bosnia, according to war crimes researchers who published the “Bosnian Book of the Dead” and the U.N. refugee agency.

SIPA said the suspects will be handed over to the prosecutors.

(Reporting by Daria Sito-Sucic; Editing by Nick Macfie)