Bosnia and Herzegovina’s communications authority fined the Bosnian Serb public broadcaster 6,125 euros for airing a false report about the 1995 shelling of the town of Tuzla, in which 71 people were killed.
The Communications Regulatory Agency on Friday imposed a fine of 12,000 Bosnian marks (6,125 euros) on Radio Television Republika Srpska, RTRS for a breach of “fairness and impartiality” rules by broadcasting a report containing false allegations about the 1995 Tuzla Gate massacre.
Radio Television Republika Srpska, the public broadcaster in Bosnia’s Serb-dominated entity Republika Srpska, aired a report in May this year which contained claims that the victims died because a bomb was placed at the Tuzla Gate site by Bosniaks, and that they were not killed by a shell fired by Bosnian Serb forces as the courts have established.
The report also claimed that Novak Djukic, the wartime commander of the Bosnian Serb Army’s Ozren Tactical Group, who was convicted of ordering the shelling that killed 71 people, was innocent.
Sinan Alic of the Truth, Justice, Reconciliation foundation from Tuzla, which filed a complaint to the broadcasting regulator about the RTRS report, said the ruling confirmed that the Bosnian Serb broadcaster was responsible for “a flagrant breach of professional standards”.
“RTRS has been doing this continually for years. They change and falsify history, cutting deeply into the wounds of parents of children who were killed and Tuzla Gate survivors,” Alic told BIRN.
Dino Kalesic, the father of Sandro Kalesic, the two-and-a-half-year-old who was the youngest victim of the 1995 massacre, said he welcomed the decision.
“The Communications Regulatory Agency should conduct a much deeper analysis of their work and reporting, not only with regards to Tuzla Gate, but also other crimes in Bosnia and Herzegovina, which the RTRS editorial team always presents using false history and facts that have been adjusted without morals or human conscience,” Kalesic told BIRN.
“Because, believe me, it is not easy for the father of a killed two-and-a-half-year-old child to watch someone on RTRS claim that we killed our own children,” he added.
RTRS did not immediately respond to BIRN’s request for a comment on the ruling.
So far, Bosnian Serb general Novak Djukic is the only person to have been convicted of the Tuzla Gate massacre, but he has not yet served his sentence because he fled to Serbia.
The Bosnian authorities have repeatedly asked Serbia to take over the verdict and force the fugitive Djukic to serve his sentence there, but the Belgrade court has yet to issue any ruling. Hearings in the case have been postponed several times.