Published on May 16, 2012 by journeymanpicture
Everyone remembers the harrowing footage of the Srebrenica massacre shot
by Zoran Petrovic, the only cameraman to capture the events on film.
But this week's fascinating documentary shows that the very worst of his
pictures never reached our TV screens. Key scenes from Petrovic's
rushes were 'lost' or blacked over, presumably to prevent reprisals. We
unearth the lost images, and the completed jigsaw is even more heinous
than the already blood-spattered picture. Amazingly, Petrovic has never
been interviewed by the War Crimes Tribunal about what he saw. For the
first time, his incriminating material is available for scrutiny.
the watch of Dutchbat soldiers, queues of Muslim men and women are
separated by one of General Mladic's men. They are familiar images,
broadcast by TV stations around the world in the wake of the Srebrenica
massacre. The War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague used Zoran Petrovic's
tape to secure several prosecutions for the massacres in the early 1990s
and to investigate the involvement of Dutch peacekeepers Dutchbat.
the footage shot by Petrovic appears to be incomplete. There is only
one 60 minute tape for two days of filming, and throughout the rushes
there are black gaps, cutting right through scenes and camera movements.
Petrovic insists he was told to black over those sections by officious
checkpoint guards on the roadside: "Everyone wants to be a smart guy. I
was told -- 'Don't film these guys. You erase this'".
But Jean René
Ruez, the man charged with analysing film evidence for the War Crimes
Tribunal is adamant Petrovic is lying: "The cuts were done later. Sure".
Journalist John Block agrees. He was granted access to the rushes when
they were first aired on Belgrade's Studio 3 that same day -- July 14th
1995. He insists he saw two tapes. He remembers clearly seeing
unadulterated shots of piles of bodies -- the material now missing from
Petrovic's sole remaining tape. When the BBC called Studio 3 the next
day, the incriminating tape was gone, and the other tape was blacked.
copy of a copy of a copy of the original Studio 3 documentary proves
they are right. Although the quality of the footage is poor, there are
no gaps. "This is of exceptional importance to the prosecutor" smiles
Ruez. "They let you see what the witnesses are talking about. The
recordings will help to furnish proof at a future trial of Mladic."
other things - such as the use of German shepherd dogs to hunt Bosnian
Muslims and the indiscriminate shelling of refugees - the previously
missing pictures show the physical evidence of the Srebrenica massacre.
Dead bodies are piled up at the Gravica warehouse. Shooting is clearly
audible in the background.
The massacre has long been known about,
but until now there has been little hard evidence. Only two survivors
from over 1000 refugees seeking shelter in the warehouse survived to
give testimony - the only witnesses to talk of a massacre. Both were
Bosnian Muslims. "The witnesses are from warring factions" explains
Ruez, "so you have to be careful what they say. This confirms the
Chief prosecutor at the War Crimes Tribunal Mark Harmon
agrees: "It's very important footage. Pictures do not lie. This is a
very graphic image confirming the massacres took place. It's important
to enlighten the public in Srpska if there is going to be any kind of
So far, the Yugoslavia Tribunal has never spoken to
cameraman Zoran Petrovic. He still denies he was part of any cover-up
operation and even offers our journalist a "last warning" when pressed.
But these shocking new images had certainly been covered up by someone
and their disappearance has hampered moves towards justice and
reconciliation. Their discovery is a key step in helping bring
Yugoslavia closer to closure.
Director: Gert Corba
In: World News
Tags: lost, images, bosnia, serbia, UN, massacre, Zoran, Petrovic, War, Crimes, Tribunal, Dutchbat, General, Mladic
Location: Srebrenica, Republika Srpska, Bosnia and Herzegovina (load item map)
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