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Anniversary Of Srebrenica Massacre Marked With Mass Funeral

Bosnian Muslim women weep by a relative's coffin among those of other Srebrenica victims at the Potocari memorial center.
(RFE/RL) -- Thousands of relatives and survivors gathered in the Potocari Memorial Park outside Srebrenica on the 14th anniversary of Europe's largest massacre since World War II to bury hundreds of victims recently recovered from mass graves

The remains of 534 identified victims were buried outside the town in eastern Bosnia-Herzegovina. They were aged between 14 and 72.

Since it was built in 2003, 3,749 victims of the massacre have been buried at the memorial.

The massacre of some 8,000 Muslim men and boys after Bosnian Serb forces captured the UN-protected enclave on July 11, 1995, became the symbol of the brutality of Bosnia's 1992-95 war.

Forensic experts say they have identified more than 6,000 victims of the slaughter through DNA analysis.

The remains of the victims were in most cases found in secondary mass graves where they had been moved from initial burial sites in a bid by Bosnian Serbs to cover up war crimes. So far, about 70 mass graves have been exhumed.

In Europe, But Not Bosnia

Speaking at the ceremony, the international high representative in Bosnia, Austrian diplomat Valentin Inzko, said the victims must not be forgotten and called for those responsible to be punished.

The atrocity is to be commemorated for the first time across Europe, but not in ethnically divided Bosnia itself.

The European Parliament in January proclaimed July 11 a day of commemoration and urged European countries to support the resolution.

The parliaments in both Croatia and Montenegro passed resolutions this week proclaiming the date as a day of remembrance.

But Bosnia and Serbia have made no formal recognition. This week, ethnic Serbian deputies in the Bosnian parliament blocked a resolution.

Speaking to RFE/RL recently, Bosnia's grand mufti, Mustafa Ceric, said that Bosnian legislators " missed the historic opportunity to say to their children that they earned their salary."

Ceric also noted that Bosnia's Muslims have "lived for 14 years with this defiance and this denial of genocide -- which is the most difficult stage of the genocidal processes. Genocide has many stages. So the final stage is denial of the genocide after accusing the victims of genocide that they are responsible for what has been done to them."

Bosnia's war cost 100,000 lives and left the territory split into two autonomous entities -- the Muslim-Croat Federation and the Serbs' Republika Srpska.

The Srebrenica massacre has been termed genocide by both the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY).

Bosnian Serb wartime leader Radovan Karadzic, suspected of being the main culprit behind the massacre, is awaiting trial before the ICTY. His army chief and co-accused, Ratko Mladic, is still on the run.

A member of Bosnia's tripartite presidency, Haris Silajdzic, said Bosnia wants to have good relations with Serbia. But he said this won’t be possible as long as Belgrade does not arrest Mladic.

In a statement, Serbian Prime Minister Mirko Cvetkovic said there could be no justice for the victims of the Srebrenica massacre until those responsible are put on trial. He said a criminal case "is one of the main conditions for reconciliation and the establishment of a durable peace in the region."