SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina (AP) — A Bosnian Serb leader has wrongly called the 1995 Srebrenica massacre, where over 8,000 Muslim men and boys were killed by Bosnian Serb troops, "a fabricated myth." The comments defy international court rulings that say genocide was committed in the eastern Bosnian enclave.
Both the International Court of Justice and the U.N. war crimes court for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague, Netherlands, have ruled that the killings in Srebrenica were genocide.
The Bosnian Serb wartime political and military leaders, Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic, have been sentenced to life in prison for the Srebrenica genocide and other war crimes during Bosnia's 1992-95 war, which killed over 100,000 people and made millions homeless.
But Milorad Dodik, who now heads Bosnia's multi-ethnic joint presidency, has told a conference discussing war crimes during the Bosnian conflict that the Srebrenica massacre was "something that does not exist."
"(Bosnian Muslims) did not have a myth, so they decided to construct one around Srebrenica," Dodik said Friday.
Dodik has repeatedly downplayed the Srebrenica massacre, along with other Bosnian Serb politicians and the authorities in neighboring Serbia, who deny that genocide was committed. Bosnian Serbs have also announced a special commission tasked with establishing the "truth" on Srebrenica.
Dodik's comments have drawn condemnation from Muslims in Bosnia.
"Srebrenica is a court-proven fact, just as is a court-proven fact that the military and political leadership of the Bosnian Serbs have been convicted of a joint criminal enterprise and genocide," said Ramiz Salkic, a Bosnian Muslim official.
"Those are historic facts, not a myth. And that is what Dodik should tell his people," said Salkic.
The Srebrenica massacre was one of the bloodiest slaughters in Europe since World War II. Some 8,000 Muslim men and boys were killed and their bodies dumped in numerous mass graves in the days after Bosnian Serb forces captured the eastern town of Srebrenica on July 11, 1995.
Over 6,600 Srebrenica victims have been identified but experts are still excavating the victims' bodies from hidden mass graves. Many of the remains were torn apart. Experts have used DNA analysis to put bodies back together from bones found in locations miles from each other after the perpetrators tried to hide their war crimes.