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Bosnia agonizes over release of massacre video

1995 shooting deaths of Muslims from Srebrenica shown on TV

Image: Bound Bosnian prisoners.
This image taken from a video purportedly shows the shadow of a Serbian soldier cast over bound Bosnian Muslim civilian prisoners taken from Srebrenica to Mount Treskavica, near the wartime Bosnian Serb capital of Pale, in 1995, where they were killed.
June 3: Bosnian television aired a video of a 1995 massacre committed by Serbs in Srebrenica, Bosnia-Herzegovina. But will the people responsible for the atrocity be punished? NBC's Keith Miller explores.

Nightly News

updated 7:47 p.m. ET June 3, 2005

SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina - Shaken and in tears, Nura Alispahic said Friday she turned on the TV to watch the news — then saw a gruesome video of the shooting deaths of her teenage son Azmir and five other Muslims from Srebrenica by Serb forces in July 1995.

“I saw with my own eyes when these animals killed my son. He was only 16½. No one can understand how I feel,” she told The Associated Press.

Bosnian television broadcast the amateur footage, apparently made by Serb troops, on its late-evening news Wednesday.

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It showed six civilians taken from a truck, hands tied behind their backs and lined up on a hillside. Four were shot — one by one — in the backs. Two others were ordered to carry the bodies into a barn, where they, too, were killed.

“I saw him. He was second in the row. They were pushing him,” his mother said. “He turns, and I see him and it was my Azmir.

“Seconds later, they shoot him. He falls,” said Alispahic, 60, sitting beside her daughter Magbula in their room in a refugee camp near the northern town of Tuzla.

Her other son, Admir, also was killed during the war. He had been wounded in Srebrenica and evacuated to Tuzla. Shortly after he was released from the hospital, he was killed during a shelling of the town.

As many as 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys were killed when Bosnian Serb troops overran the eastern Bosnian enclave of Srebrenica nearly 10 years ago in Europe’s worst mass killing since World War II.

Video shown to U.N. war crimes court
The footage was first shown Wednesday at the U.N. war crimes court in The Hague, Netherlands.

The prosecution introduced the video during hearings in the trial of former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, indicted for his alleged role in atrocities during the Balkan wars, including the Srebrenica massacre.

U.N. prosecutors contend the killings were carried out by the Serb paramilitary unit known as the Scorpions somewhere on Mount Treskavica near the wartime Bosnian Serb capital, Pale.

The Scorpions allegedly were under orders from Serbian police in Belgrade and the link could directly tie Milosevic with the crimes committed in Bosnia.

Azmir’s body was found buried in a mass grave in 1999 by the Bosnian Federation Commission for the Search of Missing Persons. He was identified and reburied in 2003 at the Memorial Cemetery in Potocari, near Srebrenica.

Police in neighboring Serbia-Montenegro have arrested at least eight men they say are shown in the video, said Rasim Ljajic, head of the Serbia-Montenegro government body in charge of cooperation with the U.N. war crimes tribunal.

'Important to show the world'
Munira Subasic, a representative of the Association of Mothers of Srebrenica, told AP in Sarajevo that the other victim recognized by his mother from the footage was 17-year-old Safet Fejzic.

The mother and the family were too shocked to speak to the media, Subasic said.

She added that the Mothers of Srebrenica association planned to meet with the chief prosecutor of the U.N. war crimes tribunal, Carla del Ponte, who was visiting Bosnia on Friday.

“We will demand that she gives us the entire two hour-long footage of the killings,” Subasic said. “Maybe someone else can recognize their next of kin as well.”

She said they also want the entire video broadcast worldwide. “It is very important to show to the world the crimes committed here. Such genocide cannot and must not be unpunished.”

Squeezing her shaking hands, Nura Alispahic remembered the last time she saw Azmir.

“Serbs were entering Srebrenica, and Azmir came back to give me a kiss before he fled,” she said, sobbing. “I had a feeling then that I would never see him again.”

© 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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