Newly elected Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic told reporters that the mass killing of thousands in the Bosnian town of Srebrenica in 1995 was "no genocide," instead describing the systematic deaths of 8,000 Muslim men and boys there in terms of "grave war crimes," reported Al Jazeera.
Nikolic, appearing on Montenegrin state television in an interview recorded earlier this week, admitted that "grave war crimes were committed by some Serbs, who should be found, prosecuted and punished," but said it "is very difficult to indict someone and prove before a court that an event qualifies as genocide," according to Al Jazeera.
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Nikolic was elected last month, taking over from Boris Tadic, who had earlier made a public apology to the families of Srebrenica victims, said CBC News.
His comments are likely to stir the region's simmering ethnic and religious divides a month before the Bosnia prepares to mark the 17th anniversary of the massacre. Nikolic has said he will not attend the ceremony, reported CBC News.
Serbia's parliament issued a landmark 2010 declaration denouncing the killings at Srebrenica, reported CBC News.
Former Serbian general Ratko Mladic is charged with leading the killings in Srebrenica, which took place during the region's brutal 1992-1995 war. He is currently on trial at The Hague, said CBC News.