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The war crimes tribunal in Bosnia and Herzegovina said Wednesday that it expected to increase the number of its prosecutions in connection with the 1995 Srebrenica massacre after the handover of a list of more than 19,000 Bosnian Serb soldiers, police officers and officials involved in the killings.
Word that the Bosnian Serb authorities had given the list to Bosnian war crimes investigators late last week came as Serbia noted the fifth anniversary of the ouster of the man most blamed for the Balkan wars of the 1990s, Slobodan Milosevic.
Serbs and Bosnian Serbs have been slow to accept any blame for the mass killings of those wars.
However, in November last year, Bosnian Serb authorities acknowledged responsibility for the massacre and apologized officially after years of playing down the extent of the violence and the expulsions of millions of people.
The handover of the list to war crimes investigators completes a two-year investigation by the Bosnian Serb government of the Srebrenica massacre, in which an estimated 8,000 people, mostly Muslim men and boys, died in Europe's worst massacre since World War II.
A senior Bosnian Serb official close to the government commission investigating the atrocity, said he expected 90 people named on the list to be prosecuted by Bosnia's recently established war crimes court. The official requested anonymity because, he said, he did not want to pre-empt any announcements by the court.
Illustrating how far Serbs have moved toward accepting responsibility, an earlier Bosnian Serb investigation of Srebrenica said that more than 600 people had died there in July 1995 and that most of them had been armed.
A spokesman for the Bosnian tribunal, which began to prosecute war crimes cases last month, said he believed the list would enable prosecutors to pursue suspects still in the Bosnian Serb government. "I can't give you numbers," said the spokesman, Refik Hodzic. "We are looking into it and will prioritize those who are occupying positions of power, either in the police or other institutions of the country."
Only three years ago, it was considered highly unlikely that the government in the Serb-controlled half of Bosnia, which by its own admission still employs about 900 people who were involved in killings at Srebrenica, would implicate its forces and give their names to prosecutors. Most Bosnian Serb officials say the report was written under pressure from the United States and the European Union.
"Unfortunately the report is a product of international pressure, rather than the genuine work of the Bosnian Serb Republic's leadership to face what was happening in Srebrenica," said Zeljko Kopanja, editor in chief of Nezavisne Novine, an independent Bosnian Serb newspaper.
However, he said, he thought the commission report and the subsequent prosecution would help to establish greater awareness about what had happened.
"It will help determine the truth," he said.
The list shows in detail for the first time the extent to which Bosnian Serb forces and organizations were involved in the killings.
It states that 17,342 soldiers participated in the capture of Srebrenica and in the subsequent killings. The report also lists 55 Defense Ministry administrators, 209 civil protection workers, and 34 drivers. Hodzic said those names suggested the extent of the preparation involved in the massacre.
"I think that if you take into account the dimension of genocide that occurred, you will find that many many people took part in different aspects of it," he said.
Meanwhile, leaders in Serbia marked the anniversary of the Oct. 5, 2000, uprising that removed Milosevic. In the summer of 2001, he was handed over to the United Nations war crimes tribunal in The Hague, where he is still on trial, accused of genocide and other crimes allegedly committed in wars in Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo from 1991 to 1999.
Politicians and commentators said Wednesday that Milosevic's shadow still hung over the country.
"Everything that had burdened Serbia under the rule of Slobodan Milosevic is back again," wrote President Boris Tadic in the daily newspaper Politika.
While Serbia is experiencing significant growth, the country has not completely shed its pariah status. Until late last year, the government of Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica refused to arrest war crimes suspects wanted by the Hague tribunal, which prevented Serbia from sealing ties with Europe.