Bosnia will ask the United Nations' top court to review its 2007 ruling which cleared Serbia of genocide during the country's civil war, Bosnia's Muslim leader said Friday. The move announced by Bakir Izetbegovic, the Muslim member of Bosnia's tripartite presidency, could spark a new political crisis in the Balkans country which remains deeply divided along ethnic lines since the 1992-1995 war.
Serb presidency member Mladen Ivanic said Tuesday that such a decision by Muslim officials would "threaten peace and stability in Bosnia." Izetbegovic said the request for revision would be forwarded to the Hague-based International Court of Justice (ICJ) next week, just a few days before a 10-year deadline expires.
"Everyone needs the truth, even those who oppose it, a truth that will be written by international judges, experienced and impartial," Izetbegovic told reporters after meeting with some 50 Bosnian Muslim politicians, legal experts and representatives of war victims' associations.
Bosnian Serb officials say such a request cannot be made without consensus within the tripartite presidency. But Izetbegovic insists it can and said it would be done by a lawyer the presidency appointed in 2002.
Bosnia's legal team has "new arguments," notably those presented during the trial of Bosnian Serb wartime army chief Ratko Mladic who is awaiting judgement at a UN tribunal, Izetbegovic said.
In Belgrade, Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic labelled the decision "difficult and bad" for ties between the two neighbouring countries.
"Despite everything, I'm convinced that we will manage to preserve our national interests," Vucic said quoted by the Blic paper online edition. "However, we will continue to talk with Bosnian officials, wishing to assure a lasting peace in the Balkans."
Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik called ethnic Serb politicians to "challenge the legitimacy" of the demand for revision with the ICJ.
In the original case launched in 1993 by Bosnia's then Muslim-dominated government, Sarajevo accused Belgrade of masterminding a genocide through widespread "ethnic cleansing" during the war which killed more than 100,000.
On February 26, 2007, the ICJ found only one act of genocide, the massacre of nearly 8,000 Muslim males by Bosnian Serb forces in Srebrenica, and said there was not enough evidence to suggest Belgrade was directly responsible. But it did find Serbia, which politically and militarily backed the Bosnian Serbs, had breached international law over the Srebrenica slaughter.
Serb forces captured the eastern town in July 1995, in the final months of the war, then summarily killed its men and boys in Europe's worst single atrocity since World War II.
Since the war ended Bosnia has consisted of two semi-independent entities, the Serbs' Republika Srpska and the Muslim-Croat Federation.
The two are linked by weak joint institutions.