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Last Updated: Wednesday, 28 February 2007, 02:18 GMT
Bosnia genocide ruling splits regional media
Up to 8000 Muslims killed at Srebrenica
Up to 8000 Muslims killed at Srebrenica
The top UN court's ruling, which cleared Serbia of direct responsibility for genocide during the Bosnian war but found it guilty of failing to prevent and punish the killings in Srebrenica, consumes the regional media.

The proceedings were carried live by main TV and radio stations which devoted large parts of their bulletins to reactions to the judgment.

Anger

In the Muslim-Croat Federation, state TV carried the live coverage of the proceedings while its later bulletins focused mainly on reactions to the ruling.

Several special programmes were introduced by footage of emaciated inmates in Serb-run detention camps, the execution of Muslim men by Serb paramilitaries in Srebrenica and other war footage.

Pictures of coffins of Muslim victims being carried ahead of a mass burial and emotional reactions from Srebrenica survivors dominated the initial reports but the tone of later reports appeared to be more restrained.

The main bulletin on Bosnian state radio featured a strongly-worded report from The Hague which featured reactions by relatives of the Srebrenica victims waiting outside the court building who expressed their "astonishment" at the "unjust verdict with which justice has died".

Bosnian independent TV Hayat appeared to be less neutral in its reporting.

A reporter introduced the first report in the evening news with the questions: Has justice finally been served? Is this the truth we have been waiting for such a long time?

TV Hayat also opted to show footage of the part of a news conference of Bosnian Presidency members in which the Serb member Nebojsa Radmanovic accused his Muslim counterpart Haris Silajdzic of using the ruling to promote his political agenda.

Bosnian radio also carried a special programme featuring interviews with prominent political leaders representing the main ethnic groups.

Mr Radmanovic warned the verdict could "cause internal tension" while Croat member Zeljko Komsic and Mr Silajdzic both expressed their "disappointment".

Restraint

In the Bosnian Serb Republic, there was a cautious welcome for the verdict.

President Milan Jelic hailed the verdict as "a victory for everybody in Bosnia" which "had closed a chapter in the history of the region".

Prime Minister Milorad Dodik said he always considered Bosnia and Herzegovina's genocide charge "illegal and illegitimate," regardless of the verdict.

He said it was beyond doubt that a crime had been committed in Srebrenica but maintained that the verdict showed genocide had been neither planned nor committed in Bosnia.

Relief

The news that the government in Belgrade was not directly responsible for the deaths of Muslim men killed under the command of Gen Ratko Mladic, was welcomed in the Serbian media.

Both state RTS and private B92 carried live broadcasts of the proceedings, but their reports also focused on the parts of the judgment which said that Serbia did not act to prevent genocide and urged the authorities to arrest Mr Mladic and other indictees.

President Boris Tadic hailing the verdict as a step that could open a new page in the relations between the two countries while urging further cooperation with the Hague tribunal featured prominently in the reports.

The reports also focused on Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica's statement that the ruling freed Serbia of a serious accusation but calling for all individuals guilty of war crimes to be punished.

Aleksandar Gajic, a law expert who took part in a special political debate on RTS, predicted that politicians would now try to shift responsibility onto the Bosnian Serb Republic but Bosnian Serb Deputy Speaker Miroslav Mikes speaking in the same programme urged his government to distance itself from war crimes.

The TV's correspondent reported from The Hague for the main evening bulletin said that "the court practically blamed Bosnian Serbs for the crime in Srebrenica".

Muted celebrations

But B92 TV adopted a more sober tone. It gave prominence to statements by Serbian negotiators urging Belgrade to cooperate with The Hague.

"Our state remains obliged to face those who, by committing serious crimes, besmirched the Serb people's name. That is why we demand that the remaining Hague tribunal fugitives be arrested immediately wherever they are," one negotiator was shown saying.

In an interview with Fox TV, Mr Kostunica's advisor Vladeta Jankovic said it would have been "a catastrophe had we been found guilty" and said he hoped that the verdict would open "new avenues for the future".

But in a live link-up with the TV from Sarajevo, former Bosnian President Ejup Ganic, said the court "had deprived us of the right to a part of our history" and charged that Bosnia had been used as a scapegoat to allay Serbia's fears over the Kosovo independence issue.

BBC Monitoring selects and translates news from radio, television, press, news agencies and the internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages. It is based in Caversham, UK, and has several bureaux abroad.




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