Serbia president apologizes for Srebrenica massacre

Updated 29 April 2013
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Serbia president apologizes for Srebrenica massacre

Bosnia-Hercegovina: Serbia’s nationalist President Tomislav Nikolic on Thursday personally apologized for the first time for the 1995 Srebrenica massacre of 8,000 Muslims, but stopped short of calling it genocide.
“I kneel and ask for forgiveness for Serbia for the crime committed in Srebrenica,” Nikolic said of the slaughter, the worst atrocity in Europe since World War II.
“I apologize for the crimes committed by any individual in the name of our state and our people,” he said in an interview to be aired on Bosnian national television, parts of which have been released on You Tube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9c-iF9Li8tY).
After being elected last May, Nikolic caused a stir in the region by refusing to acknowledge that the massacre in the Bosnian enclave — in which some 8,000 Muslim men and boys were killed by Bosnian Serb forces — was a genocide, despite it being ruled as such by two international courts.
Nikolic at the time said “there was no genocide in Srebrenica.”
Munira Subasic, president of the Mothers of Srebrenica association, which groups families of the victims, said she was “not convinced” of Nikolic’s sincerity.
“We do not need someone to kneel and ask for forgiveness. We want to hear the Serbian president and Serbia say the word genocide,” Munira Subasic told AFP.
“Only then we will believe that it is a sincere gesture,” she said.
“We need Serbia to accept rulings by the international courts,” said Subasic, whose husband and son were killed in Srebrenica massacre.
Until five years ago Nikolic was a top official of the ultra-nationalist Serbian Radical Party, which has denied that Serb forces committed crimes during the Balkans wars of the 1990s.
Its leader Vojislav Seselj is currently on trial for war crimes before The Hague-based UN International Criminal Court for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY).
Nikolic’s apology came a few days after a member of Bosnia’s tripartite presidency Bakir Izetbegovic had indirectly urged him to acknowledge Srebrenica massacre as genocide.
“In order to go forward, we need to stop for a moment and look back to ... what has happened in Srebrenica. We ask this truth to be recognized and words to be chosen when talking about it ... and to respect the decisions of the international courts,” Izetbegovic said after meeting Nikolic in Belgrade earlier this week.
While this marks Nikolic’s first apology on Srebrenica, Serbia has in the past expressed regret over the deaths.
In 2010 the Serbian parliament passed an historic declaration condemning the Srebrenica massacre in a gesture ending years of denial by Serbian politicians about the scale of the killings, but Nikolic at the time did not support the move.
Nikolic’s predecessor Boris Tadic also apologized to Srebrenica victims during a commemoration event in 2005.
Both the ICTY and the United Nations’ highest court, the International Court of Justice, have found that the Srebrenica massacre was a genocide.
Bosnian Serb wartime political and military leaders Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic are currently on trial on genocide charges before the ICTY for their role in Srebrenica massacre.
Both men have pleaded not guilty to genocide charges for masterminding the massacre and all other charges against them over the Bosnian war that left around 100,000 people dead.
So far 38 former Bosnian Serb military or police officials have been convicted, including some for genocide, for their role in the Srebrenica killings, both by the ICTY and Bosnia’s own war crimes court.
In the past 17 years, the remains of 5,650 victims have been buried, but the search goes on.
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Bill Cosby convicted of drugging and molesting a woman

Updated 10 min 56 sec ago
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Bill Cosby convicted of drugging and molesting a woman

NORRISTOWN-PENNSILVANIA: Bill Cosby was convicted Thursday of drugging and molesting a woman in the first big celebrity trial of the #MeToo era,
completing the spectacular late-life downfall of a comedian who broke racial barriers in Hollywood on his way to TV superstardom as America’s Dad.
Cosby, 80, could end up spending his final years in prison after a jury concluded he sexually violated Temple University employee Andrea Constand at his suburban Philadelphia home in 2004. He claimed the encounter was consensual.
Cosby stared straight ahead as the verdict was read, but moments later lashed out loudly at District Attorney Kevin Steele and called him an “a--hole” after the prosecutor asked that Cosby be immediately jailed because he might flee. Cosby denied he has an airplane and shouted, “I’m sick of him!“
The judge decided Cosby can remain free on bail while he awaits sentencing.
Shrieks erupted in the courtroom when the verdict was announced, and some of his accusers whimpered and cried. Constand remained stoic, then hugged her lawyer and members of the prosecution team.
“Justice has been done!” celebrity attorney Gloria Allred, who represented some of Cosby’s accusers, said on the courthouse steps. “We are so happy that finally we can say women are believed.”
The verdict came after a two-week retrial in which prosecutors put five other women on the stand who testified that Cosby, married for 54 years, drugged and violated them, too. One of those women asked him through her tears, “You remember, don’t you, Mr. Cosby?“
The panel of seven men and five women reached a verdict after deliberating 14 hours over two days, vindicating prosecutors’ decision to retry Cosby after his first trial ended with a hung jury less than a year ago.
Cosby could get up to 10 years in prison on each of the three counts of aggravated indecent assault. He is likely to get less than that under state sentencing guidelines, but given his age, even a modest term could mean he will die behind bars.
Constand, 45, a former Temple women’s basketball administrator, told jurors that Cosby knocked her out with three blue pills he called “your friends” and then penetrated her with his fingers as she lay immobilized, unable to resist or say no.
It was the only criminal case to arise from a barrage of allegations from more than 60 women who said the former TV star drugged and molested them over a span of five decades.
“The time for the defendant to escape justice is over,” prosecutor Stewart Ryan said in his closing argument. “It’s finally time for the defendant to dine on the banquet of his own consequences.”
Another prosecutor, Kristen Feden, said Cosby was “nothing like the image that he played on TV” as sweater-wearing, wisdom-dispensing father of five Dr. Cliff Huxtable on “The Cosby Show.”