Bosnian police have detained eight ethnic Serbs suspected of complicity in the killing of about 120 Muslim men and boys in northwestern Bosnia in the beginning of the 1992-95 war.
The prosecutor’s office said in a statement on Tuesday that the operation was carried out on the orders of the state war crimes prosecutor.
According to the statement, the men are suspected of having a role in the “illegal detention and killing” of the Muslims during a wide and systematic attack by the Serbian army, police and paramilitaries in Prijedor region.
The statement added that the victims were taken to a cultural center and a football stadium, where they were “tortured” for three days before being executed or shot dead.
“The group are believed to have illegally detained 120 men, including 15 boys, in the village of Miska Glava, and taken them to a nearby cultural center and a stadium where they were tortured and abused for three days.”
It also said that up to 15 detainees were executed in the abovementioned locations while the rest were taken to the town of Ljubija and shot dead. “Only a few victims survived the execution and their testimonies were of key importance in shedding light on this atrocity.”
The prosecutor’s office also said the bodies of victims were exhumed from two mass graves in Prijedor soon after the Bosnian war ended, and from a third discovered only this year.
Prijedor was a stronghold of ultra-nationalist Serbian forces, who killed thousands of Muslim Bosnians there and drove thousands out of the region.
Bosnian-Serbian military chief Ratko Mladic is currently standing trial in a UN court in The Hague over his role in atrocities. Over 80 people have been sentenced in The Hague for crimes dating from the 1990s conflicts in former Yugoslavia.
January 9, 1992, marks the day when Bosnian Serbs declared separation from Bosnia and Herzegovina, triggering a bloody three-year war infamous for its mass ethnic killings and persecution of Bosnian Muslims and Croats by Serbs.
In July 1995, Serbian death squads butchered over 8,000 Muslim Bosnian boys and men in Srebrenica in a few days in the worst atrocity in Europe since World War II.
Former Bosnian-Serbian political leader Radovan Karadzic was convicted of war crimes for his role in the Srebrenica killings, considered genocide by the UN-backed criminal tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. He was sentenced to 40 years in prison.
Bosnia’s 1992-1995 war claimed the lives of an estimated 100,000 people.