Serbia: prosecutor opens investigation over Bosnia killings

Serbia's war crimes prosecutor opened an investigation Wednesday against two Serb paramilitary commanders over the 1992 killings of hundreds of Muslim civilians in eastern Bosnia.

Branko Grujic and Branko Popovic are suspected of ordering the killing of about 700 civilians from the villages around Zvornik, eastern Bosnia, in June 1992, the prosecutor's office said in a statement.

The statement added that the civilians were killed from June 1-5 "in an extremely brutal way" and their bodies were later buried in various locations in an alleged attempt to cover up the crime.

Hundreds of Muslims were killed in Zvornik and its surroundings when Serb troops took control of the town in the early months of the Bosnian war. The massacre was considered to be one of the most brutal of Bosnia's 1992-95 war.

Grujic and Popovic and five other suspects already have been put on trial in connection with the killings. However the new, extended investigation could lead to additional charges, said Bruno Vekaric, the spokesman for the prosecutor's office, the AP reports.

Vekaric said the two are being held in detention in Belgrade, but that other, unidentified, potential suspects remain in Bosnia. Vekaric also added that the prosecution of those responsible for the Zvornik killings was the result of regional cooperation.

War crimes trials for atrocities committed by Serb troops during the wars in Bosnia and Croatia became possible in Serbia after the ouster in 2000 of former nationalist president Slobodan Milosevic.