French govt blocking Srebrenica enquiry

PARIS, Jul 14, 2000 -- (AFP) The international charity Medecins Sans Frontiers (MSF) accused the French government Thursday of blocking any inquest into France's role in events leading to the massacre of Bosnian Muslims in Srebrenica five years ago.

Repeating a call for a commission of enquiry in parliament's lower house the National Assembly, MSF legal counselor Francoise Saulnier conceded that its chances of being set up were non-existent.

"The political resistance is too strong. The politicians we speak to tell us it's too delicate," she told a news conference.

MSF and other pressure groups want light shed on the actions of French General Bernard Janvier, who was in command of the United Nations Protection Force in Bosnia (UNPROFOR) when the Srebrenica enclave was over-run by Serbs in July 1995 and failed to exercise his powers to call in NATO air-strikes.

At the time Bosnian Serbs were holding 350 UN troops hostage -- including several Frenchmen -- and Serb leaders boasted of receiving assurances that no air-strikes would be carried out without the authorization of French President Jacques Chirac, MSF said.

"Who told Janvier not to give the order (for air-strikes)? What arguments were put forward? ... Perhaps the relationship between Janvier and Chirac is what is blocking (any enquiry)," said MSF president Jean-Herve Bradol.

Approximately 7,000 people are believed to have been killed by Bosnian Serbs in the enclave, which was supposed to be protected by a battalion of Dutch peace-keepers.

"An enquiry is underway in the Netherlands. The UN has published a report. But nothing has been done in France," said Saulnier. "Records of telegrams sent, requests for air-strikes -- they are all in the national archives. In France only the National Assembly can carry out the inquest."

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