Eight arrested over Serbian execution footage

Serbian police have arrested at least eight men they say are shown in a video killing a group of Bosnian Muslim prisoners from Srebrenica, a top Belgrade official said today.

Serbian police have arrested at least eight men they say are shown in a video killing a group of Bosnian Muslim prisoners from Srebrenica, a top Belgrade official said today.

Rasim Ljajic, head of the Serbia-Montenegro government body in charge of co-operation with the UN war crimes tribunal, told reporters that the police action followed the screening of the footage yesterday at the UN court in The Hague, Netherlands.

The footage was introduced by the prosecution during the hearings in the trial of former President Slobodan Milosevic, indicted for his alleged role in atrocities committed during the Balkan wars, including the 1995 massacre of up to 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica – Europe’s worst carnage since World War II.

The amateur footage, apparently made by Serb troops, showed six civilians taken from a truck, hands tied behind their backs and lined up on a hillside. Then, four were shot one by one in their backs. Two other prisoners were ordered to carry the bodies into a nearby barn where they too were killed.

According to UN prosecutors, the killings were carried out by the notorious Serb paramilitary unit known as the Scorpions, somewhere on Mount Treskavica near the wartime Bosnian Serb capital Pale. The Scorpions were allegedly under orders from Serbian police in Belgrade and the link could directly tie Milosevic with the crimes committed in Bosnia.

The footage was broadcast late yesterday by several television channels in Serbia and shocked the Balkan republic.

It also prompted the police sweep, Ljajic said. Those arrested were all identified as the executioners shown in the footage, he added, without providing their names.

Earlier today, during a visit to Belgrade by UN Chief Prosecutor Carla Del Ponte, Serbia’s Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica announced that “several suspects” from the footage shown at The Hague court were detained.

Kostunica gave no details, but Del Ponte praised the arrests as a “brilliant operation.”

“The police will continue the sweep until all suspects are in custody,” Ljajic said.

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