Serbian PM chased by stone-throwing crowd

Bodyguards shielding Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic from a crowd throwing stones and bottles at the ceremony marking the anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre. About 8,000 men and boys were executed there by Bosnian Serb forces in 1995.
Bodyguards shielding Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic from a crowd throwing stones and bottles at the ceremony marking the anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre. About 8,000 men and boys were executed there by Bosnian Serb forces in 1995.PHOTO: REUTERS

Premier was at ceremony to mark the 20th anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre

SREBRENICA • A crowd throwing bottles and stones chased Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic away from a ceremony in Bosnia marking the 20th anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre yesterday, underscoring the depth of anger over Belgrade's continued denial of the crime as genocide.

Bodyguards whisked Mr Vucic through angry mourners, while a crowd surged up the hill behind the delegation as they ran for their cars. A Bosnian government source said the delegation then left the site.

The scene marred the ceremony to commemorate the day that Srebrenica, designated a safe haven protected by Dutch United Nations peacekeepers, fell to Bosnian Serb forces in the closing months of the 1992-95 war.

About 8,000 Muslim men and boys were executed over five days and their bodies were dumped in pits, only to be dug up months later and scattered in smaller graves in an effort to conceal the crime.

The remains of 136 recently identified victims were to be buried yesterday. "Look at him (Mr Vucic) and look at those thousands of tombstones," said Ms Hamida Dzanovic, who had come to bury two bones identified by DNA as those belonging to her missing husband. "Is he not ashamed to say that this was not genocide? Is he not ashamed to come here?" she asked.

Tens of thousands of people gathered in Srebrenica to commemorate the massacre, the worst mass killing in Europe since World War II. Some 50,000 people, including dignitaries from across Bosnia and abroad, attended the ceremonies as the Balkan nation observed a day of mourning.

Mr Bill Clinton, who was United States president at the time, was among those attending. He told those gathered: "I grieve that it took us so long. I never want to see another killing field like this."

Shortly before arriving at Srebrenica, Mr Vucic had condemned the "monstrous crime".

"Serbia clearly and unambiguously condemns this horrible crime and is disgusted with all those who took part in it and will continue to bring them to justice," he said in a public letter.

Serbian and Bosnian Serb politicians have long denied the extent of the killing, although two international tribunals have described the bloodshed as genocide. The slaughter was followed a few months later by the Dayton peace deal, brokered by the Clinton administration.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 12, 2015, with the headline 'Serbian PM chased by stone-throwing crowd'. Print Edition | Subscribe