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'Lessons have been learned' 25 years after Srebrenica massacre, former UN judge says

People in the former Yugoslavia have learned lessons in the 25 years since the massacre in Srebrenica, the last president of the United Nations court examining the atrocities has said.

Judge Carmel Agius said he believed many in the region were coming to terms with the need to move forward following the massacre in which thousands of Muslims were murdered.

He told Dailyrater: "In Bosnia-Herzegovina, there are a huge majority of people that have matured as a result of the events in Srebrenica and that are fully aware of the need to get to a level of reconciliation, face the past and reconcile with it, and move forward."

Agius, who was president of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) until it was dissolved in 2017, added that the UN body was successful in indicting over 160 people connected to the massacre and bringing them to account.

Bosnian Serb soldiers slaughtered over 8,000 Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica, in north-eastern Bosnia-Herzegovina, beginning on 11 July 1995.

It was the worst massacre in Europe since the Second World War and was designated a genocide by the ICTY.

Hundreds of people are still missing and dozens of bodies are recovered from mass graves each year.

The remains of eight more Bosnian men and boys will be laid to rest in the Potocari memorial cemetery on Saturday, the 25th anniversary of the beginning of the massacre.

Justice only 'a partial solution'

Ratko Mladic, the general who ordered the killings, was one of the defendants sentenced to life imprisonment by the court in 2017.

But Judge Agius said justice was only "a partial solution to the problems that arise in the wake of a conflict during which atrocious and heinous crimes are committed."

He told Dailyrater: "In Bosnia-Herzegovina, there are a huge majority of people that have matured as a result of the events in Srebrenica and that are fully aware of the need to get to a level of reconciliation, face the past and reconcile with it, and move forward.

"However, the divisions still exist and it will take a long time before this situation is resolved because it will take the political will of the leaders and also the voluntary participation of the community."

Srebrenica was inside what was supposed to be a "safe area" protected by the UN when it was overrun by Bosnian Serb soldiers.

Dutch soldiers who were UN peacekeepers at the time have been held partly responsible for some of the killings by the ICTY.

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