CEOL - Srebrenica Massacre Survivors To Sue UN Officials

SARAJEVO, Dec 2, 1999 -- (Reuters) Survivors of the 1995 fall of the Bosnian town of Srebrenica said on Wednesday they would take legal action against former and current U.N. officials for failing to prevent the Serb massacre of thousands of Muslim men.

An association grouping mainly female relatives of victims of what is seen as the worst single atrocity in Europe since World War II said it decided on the move after the release of a U.N. report into the capture of the town by Bosnian Serb forces.

In the unprecedented 155-page document, the world body last month blamed itself and key governments for failing to use force and for appeasing Bosnian Serb leaders.

But Ibran Mustafic, a Bosnian Muslim politician and leading member of the Mothers of Srebrenica association, said survivors were not satisfied with the United Nations acknowledging only moral responsibility for not taking action in Srebrenica.

"We are not interested in anyone's moral responsibility. We are exclusively interested in their criminal guilt," he said. "All people who participated in what happened in Srebrenica, must face court at some point."

The association said it would take legal action against former U.N. Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali as well as current U.N. chief Kofi Annan, who headed U.N. peacekeeping through much of the 1992-1995 Bosnian war.

Other officials targeted by the group included former U.N. special envoy for former Yugoslavia Yasushi Akashi, former U.N. commanders Bernard Janvier and Rupert Smith as well as Ton Karremans, the commander of Dutch peacekeepers in Srebrenica in 1995.

U.S. lawyer to speak for survivors

Mustafic said the association had authorized U.S. lawyer Francis Boyle to bring charges against these officials before the International Criminal Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) based in The Hague.

He said it would also take legal action against local officials who were on the side of the Muslim-led government during the 43-month conflict, but did not identify them.

In late 1995, the ICTY indicted wartime Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic and his military commander Ratko Mladic for orchestrating the capture of the town.

Srebrenica was overrun by Bosnian Serb forces in July 1995, even though it had been declared a U.N. "safe area" two years earlier.

The Red Cross estimates that about 7,300 people are still missing from the massacre that took place after it fell.

The U.N. report on events before and after the slaughter of thousands of Muslim men and boys concluded that a fighting force and air strikes should have been used in Bosnia much sooner.

Instead the world body treated all parties equally and conducted negotiations that "amounted to appeasement," it said.

Zineta Mujkic, head of the Srebrenica association, said: "We do not need an apology, we need the truth."

Gabeljic Munevera, 47, said she had lost a husband, two sons and nearly 30 other relatives after Srebrenica's fall. "I condemn all of them. They are all guilty. I condemn the whole world."

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