|Srebrenica mayor Mladen Grujicic. Photo: Anadolu.|
Mladen Grujicic told N1 TV on Wednesday evening that he did not believe that the Srebrenica massacres were genocide, despite the rulings of international and Bosnian courts.
“Each victim has their own weight and importance and this must be respected. But I can’t agree with the qualification of the crime,” the Srebrenica mayor said in the televised interview.
He also said that in international court rulings, the number of victims of the massacres, in which thousands of Bosniak men and boys were killed by Bosnian Serb forces in July 1995, were inconsistent.
He added that he was involved in research into the massacres, and claimed that he had come across “a lot of evidence” that some of the people who are recorded as being buried in the village of Potocari, where the Srebrenica memorial and victims’ graves are located, are actually alive.
“The list of victims should be revised and changed,” he insisted.
Grujicic, a former chemistry teacher, is the first Serb mayor of the town, elected amid some controversy in October last year because until then, the local municipality chief had always been a Bosniak.
His election raised concerns among many Bosniaks, who feared that he would ignore or even actively undermine their status in Srebrenica.
But Grujicic said in the interview that despite these fears, he had shown that a Serb could represent the people of Srebrenica.
“Some expected that Bosniaks would leave, that this would lead to a crisis situation. But the opposite happened, I was accepted by Bosniaks and by Serbs, as their neighbour, well-meaning neighbour who lives here with his family and wants to change the environment for the better better,” he said.
Grujicic told BIRN in an interview last month that he wanted to look beyond the war and the bitterly-contested genocide debate and try to attract jobs and new prosperity to the depopulated, impoverished town.
He argued that Srebrenica has often been “collateral damage” in the endless political bickering between Bosniak and Bosnian Serb politicians.
He said however that he thought that the truth about the Srebrenica massacres “has not been proven”.
But he also insisted that the victims of Srebrenica must be honoured, stressing that he has not changed anything in the budget for the planned annual commemoration of the anniversary of the massacres on July 11, but has only increased the money set aside for commemorating Serb victims in Srebrenica as well.