BELGRADE, Serbia – Serbia on Tuesday demanded that neighboring Bosnia prosecutes a wartime Muslim commander allegedly seen in a recently released video footage ordering the destruction of Serb homes in 1995 in western Bosnia.
"Atif Dudakovic and other war criminals who committed war crimes against Serbs must be immediately arrested and must face justice for their crimes,"' said the government in Belgrade in a statement, days after local broadcasters aired the wartime videos.
"The recordings, which beyond any doubt testify about Dudakovic's misdeeds, represent evidence that must be taken as the basis for immediate action by police and judiciary," the government said, urging Bosnia's authorities to "act to bring war criminals to justice."
The recordings, made in daylight apparently with a hand-held camera, showed Bosnian Muslim soldiers and soldiers from neighboring Croatia harassing and attacking convoys of Serb refugees fleeing from a Croatian military offensive launched in August 1995 to retake contested territories from Serb rebels.
The soldiers are seen yelling at Serbs, pushing them around and executing one of them who had his hands raised in the air. The troops were also seen burning Serb houses, shouting "Burn them all."
Serbia's war crimes prosecutor said they have handed over copies of the tape to their colleagues in Bosnia and in Croatia, as well as to the Netherlands-based U.N. war crimes court for the former Yugoslavia.
The recording — first aired by Belgrade-based B92 television, then by Serbia's state television — triggered outrage among many Serbs, who often accuse the U.N. tribunal of being biased against them and unwilling to investigate cases in which Serbs were the victims.
More than 200,000 Serbs fled from the Croatian offensive in August 1995 — the biggest single exodus in the Balkan wars of the 1990s — many crossing through parts of western Bosnia in search of safety. More than a hundred of them were killed while trying to evacuate.
The U.N. court in The Hague has charged several Croatian army officers for the crimes against Serbs. The latest footage presumably adds evidence that Bosnia's Muslim-led forces — specifically a unit commanded by Gen. Dudakovic — took part in the attacks.
In Bosnia, the state prosecutor said he could not comment on the case because it was being investigated, a spokesman said.
Dudakovic, the wartime commander of the Bosnian Army Fifth corps, told Bosnian TV Tuesday evening he did not violate the Geneva Convention and he never received any report that his soldiers did.
"I can say with full moral responsibility that members of the Fifth Corps did not commit crimes. There may have been individual cases, but only individual," Dudakovic said.
Croatian justice officials said they were examining the video, but blamed Bosnian Muslim forces for the slaying.
Serbia's President Boris Tadic said in a statement he "expected the representatives of the Croatian state to give utmost importance to prosecuting war crimes."