UN chiefs escape rap over Srebrenica

THE HAGUE, Feb 10, 2000 -- (Reuters) United Nations war crimes prosecutors said on Wednesday they would take no action against U.N. and other officials accused of partial responsibility for the 1995 Srebrenica massacre in wartime Bosnia.

A group representing survivors met Chief Prosecutor Carla Del Ponte last week to lodge a complaint that U.N. officials, including current Secretary-General Kofi Annan, were partly to blame for the killing of up to 8,000 Bosnian Moslem men.

"I think some common sense has to be exercised here. It might be theoretically possible for someone to come up with an allegation... but to suggest that the U.N. in its role as a peacemaker had motives which amount to crimes falling under our jurisdiction is unrealistic," Deputy Prosecutor Graham Blewitt told a news conference.

"I think frankly it's nonsense... We will not be taking that particular complaint seriously," he added.

The massacre, carried out by Serb forces, is considered the worst single atrocity in Europe since World War II.

A lawyer for the Mothers of Srebrenica and Podrinja said U.N. officials deliberately sacrificed Srebrenica, a U.N. "safe area" for Moslems surrounded by Serb-held territory, to enable a carve-up of Bosnia under a peace accord reached later in 1995.

The group filed complaints against individuals including Annan, who was in charge of U.N. peacekeeping operations at the time of the massacre; then-secretary general Boutros Boutros-Ghali; Yasushi Akashi, then-U.N. special envoy for former Yugoslavia; U.N. peacekeeping troop commanders Bernard Janvier and Rupert Smith; and Ton Karremans, who commanded the U.N. Dutch contingent deployed in Srebrenica.

Ibran Mustafic, a Bosnian Moslem politician and leading member of the Mothers of Srebrenica group, said a decision not to prosecute the individuals stripped the U.N. of credibility.

"Our mission to The Hague was an effort to save the U.N. as an institution," he said.

The court has indicted the men accused of orchestrating the slaughter - Bosnian Serb wartime political leader Radovan Karadzic and his military commander Ratko Mladic - on charges of genocide. They remain at large.

Original article