Serbia’s war crimes prosecutor has charged six former Serb fighters over their alleged roles in killing, rape and torture of Roma civilians in eastern Bosnia during the 1992-95 war, a statement said Friday.
“Five were arrested in the swift police action overnight, while another is already in jail serving a sentence on different counts,” said the statement, issued by the office of war crimes prosecutor Vladimir Vukcevic.
Prosecuting war crimes committed by Serbs during the 1990s wars in Bosnia, Croatia and Kosovo is crucial for Belgrade’s plans to join the European Union, a priority for the government.
The six are suspected of killing at least 23 Roma civilians on July 11, 1992, the statement said. Before their murders the victims were tortured and three women were raped, it added.
Until recently, Serbian authorities have been reluctant to address Belgrade’s responsibility for atrocities and war crimes for fear of provoking a nationalist backlash.
Serbia hopes its renewed efforts will be recognized by the Hague war crimes tribunal, which has often criticized it, particularly about its failure to arrest the Hague’s most wanted fugitive, Bosnian Serb General Ratko Mladic
EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn repeated Thursday that Serbia must show it is fully cooperating with the Hague tribunal before it can progress on the EU path.