NEWS

Probe into Srebrenica claims

The government worked strenuously yesterday to dispel suggestions that Greek soldiers were involved in the massacre of Muslim men at Srebrenica in Bosnia 10 years ago, as details emerged of an investigation into the possible participation of paramilitary troops from Greece in the killings. «It has been suggested that some Greek citizens, members of paramilitary organizations, may have taken part in this crime. There has never been any information or reports about members of the Greek armed forces [taking part]. Let us clear this up once and for all,» said Foreign Ministry spokesman Giorgos Koumoutsakos in response to questions about the role of Greek soldiers, who were in Bosnia as part of the UN peacekeeping mission. After a question from independent MP Andreas Andrianopoulos in Parliament on Friday, Justice Minister Anastassis Papaligouras accepted for the first time the possibility that Greek volunteer fighters who joined Serb forces in Bosnia took part in the 1995 Srebrenica massacre, which led to the deaths of some 7,000 Muslim men. Papaligouras said Greek prosecutors were investigating the claims. «This type of involvement by paramilitaries, if it actually happened,» said Koumoutsakos, «is condemned in the strongest terms by the Greek government and people.» It also emerged yesterday that Athens prosecutor Dimitris Papangelopoulos had ordered a preliminary investigation at the beginning of the month, which has been assigned to first instance prosecutor Athina Theodoropoulou, to establish whether any Greeks were involved in the massacre. During the war in the former Yugoslavia, the Greek government tried to act as a mediator but public opinion largely favored the fellow Orthodox Serbs.