BELGRADE, Serbia-Montenegro (AP) - A top Serbian official was quoted Saturday as accusing Slovenia's troops of committing war crimes against Yugoslav soldiers during the war for independence from former Yugoslavia.
Rasim Ljajic, the official in charge of relations with the Netherlands-based U.N. war crimes court, said Belgrade will ask Slovenia to investigate a June 28, 1991, shooting incident at the Holmec border crossing with Austria, when several Yugoslav soldiers allegedly were shot and killed by Slovenian troops.
The case was revived here after an independent television station earlier this week aired footage of the shooting, made by Austria's ORF television, and Serbia's war crimes prosecutor's office suggested it may open an inquiry into the case.
"What we see on that film is undoubtedly a war crime," Ljajic was quoted as saying by the Blic daily. "What we can do is ask Slovenia to process the case and notify the international institutions."
Ljajic was not immediately available for comment. There was also no immediate comment from Slovenia.
The ORF footage broadcast on B92 television shows several young Yugoslav soldiers at a border crossing with Austria, carrying a white cloth and raising their hands in the air, apparently to surrender to the newly formed Slovenian security troops, before gunfire is heard and the troops are seen falling down.
The footage from the Holmec border crossing does not show clearly who fired the shots, nor whether the soldiers actually died. The cameraman, Ivan Klaric, told the Saturday edition of the Blic daily in a phone interview from Brazil that "the shots were heard and the soldiers fell down."
"Then, there was silence and I saw nothing else," Klaric told Blic.
Slovenian authorities have twice investigated the case in the past, and concluded that the soldiers were not killed in the incident that was filmed by ORF, but that they dropped down to avoid gunfire. The three soldiers who were killed at Holmec were killed separately, in combat, the authorities have said.
Slovenia, the westernmost former Yugoslav republic, was the first to break away from the six-member federation. The clashes with the Yugoslav army lasted for several days before the military pulled out. The war in Slovenia was followed by much bloodier conflicts in Croatia and Bosnia.
Ljubodrag Stojadinovic, a columnist in Belgrade's Politika daily who served as the army spokesman during the war in Slovenia, wrote Saturday that "the killers of the boys at Holmec (border crossing) were the pioneers of the Balkan evil."
"They are no excuse for the horrors that followed," Stojadinovic added, referring to the atrocities committed later in Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo, and blamed mostly on Serbs. "However, Slovenia's silence will only revive old wounds and serve as an excuse to those who haven't stopped hating."