By Albina Sorguc
Former Bosnian Serb Interior Minister Tomislav Kovac is accused of controlling the police forces involved in killing around 8,000 Bosniaks from Srebrenica in July 1995.
The Bosnian state court on Tuesday confirmed an indictment charging Tomislav Kovac, the wartime head of the Bosnian Serb police, with genocide.
Kovac, who is currently living in Serbia, is charged with participating in a joint criminal enterprise which aimed to exterminate Bosniaks from Srebrenica and was responsible for the execution of around 8,000 men and boys.
According to the charges, Bosnian Serb police forces under his control carried out an operation to capture, detain and summarily execute able-bodied Bosniak men and boys from the Srebrenica enclave after it fell in July 1995.
The police also carried out an operation to conceal evidence of the executions by exhuming the bodily remains of the victims from primary mass graves and reburying them in unmarked secondary mass graves, the charges allege.
The indictment further claims that Kovac was “aware of the fact that his conduct and actions were taking place in the context of a widespread and systematic attack [by Bosnian Serb forces] aimed at the forcible transfer of the Bosniak civilian population and mass liquidation of Bosniak men”.
It also alleges that Kovac was involved in “planning, preparing, supporting, aiding and perpetrating the criminal offences” and “making a significant contribution to achieving the common purpose” – the executions of the Bosniaks from Srebrenica.
Kovac currently lives in the Serbian capital Belgrade and has citizenship of both Serbia and Bosnia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
He testified at the trial of five former Bosnian Serb fighters in Sarajevo in 2016 via video link from Belgrade, and denied that the Bosnian Serb police participated in the Srebrenica crimes.
Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia have a cooperation protocol for war crimes cases, through which suspects can be tried by the other country if they live there.
However few cases have been dealt with under the protocol so far. Serbia also does not classify the Srebrenica massacres as genocide, despite rulings by international courts.
In a separate case on Tuesday, the state court in Sarajevo confirmed charges against former Bosnian Croat serviceman Alminko Islamovic, who is accused of wartime crimes against Serb civilians in Bosanski Brod.
Islamovic is charged with taking part in the torture and illegal detention of civilians held at the police station in Bosanski Brod in 1992.