Katja Lihtenvalner
9 min readApr 21


Katja Lihtenvalner

22. July 2022.14:17

After 27 years, Greek authorities are ignoring evidence that its citizens were present in Srebrenica.

Greek authorities say they have “insufficient evidence” that its citizens committed crimes while fighting in Bosnia. At the same time, the so-called volunteers continue to boast about their presence in the war.

To date, no cases related to possible crimes committed by so-called volunteers during the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina have reached a court in Greece despite constant calls for action.

The Greek authorities insist that they do not have enough evidence, but the information is not difficult to come by.

A large number of Greeks continue to boast of being left unpunished for their presence in Srebrenica and other war crimes scenes.

The Balkan Investigative Reporting Network of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BIRN BiH) did not see direct evidence that Greek volunteers actually committed some crimes, but experts say there is enough justification for a thorough investigation.

Hikmet Karcic, a Sarajevo-based genocide and Holocaust researcher, says: “Greeks certainly participated in genocide in some way, perhaps during the separation of men from their families or during deportations.

“No Greek volunteer has ever been found guilty of participating in war crimes in Bosnia. Greek volunteers today are free men and are protected by the Greek state.”

Activists have handed over piles of documents and photographs relating to possible crimes, but in vain.

Greek Volunteer Guard

After the outbreak of the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1992, Serbian forces were joined by international volunteers of various nationalities who were motivated by financial, religious and political reasons.

Behind the Russian contingent, Greek volunteers became one of the largest foreign groups that joined the Army of Republika Srpska (VRS) and fought alongside fellow Orthodox Christians.

In 2002, Ingeborg Beugel, a Dutch journalist based in Greece who reported from the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, produced the documentary “The Greek Way” about Greece’s support for the regime of wartime Leader Slobodan Milosevic and open admiration for war criminals from Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The exact number of Greek paramilitary forces in Bosnia remains unknown. Estimates vary from 150 to 300 soldiers.

Some joined the Drina Corps, Arkan’s “Tigers” and the Tenth Sabotage Detachment. Courts in The Hague and BiH have convicted more than 20 members of the Drina Corps and the Tenth Sabotage Detachment for crimes in Srebrenica.

The first Greek paramilitary forces were seen in VRS units during the siege of Sarajevo in 1993.

In the following months, their numbers grew, especially after Greek media backed their goals along with the Greek Orthodox Church and far-right organizations. Greek members included volunteers, mercenaries and right-wing extremists affiliated with the self-proclaimed fascist golden dawn political party.

The Greek Volunteer Guard was formed in March 1995, a few months before the Srebrenica genocide, on the orders of Ratko Mladic, former commander of the VRS General Staff convicted of genocide in Srebrenica and other war crimes in BiH.

The unit was led by Greek Antonis Mitkos and was part of the Drina Corps, based in Vlasenica.

On July 11, 1995, The Greeks were seen together with VRS units as they took control of Srebrenica, which led to the genocide of more than 7,000 Bosniak men and boys over the following days.

According to evidence gathered by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), zvonko Bajagic, who was a close friend of Karadzic and Mladic, was often accompanied by Greeks at the time.

Bajagic was assisted by two Greek paramilitary members passing by a football stadium in Nova Kasaba, which served as a centre for mass executions.

“One of them got out of the car to take pictures,” Bajagic admitted during testimony in Karadzic’s defence in The Hague in 2013.

in July 1995. Mitkos, Bajagic and Mladic appeared together in a now infamous photo taken in Srebrenica. Mitkos did not respond to a request to comment on his duties in Srebrenica in July 1995. No prosecutor sought evidence of his involvement in the crimes.

Creepy photos

It was revealed that one Greek parasoldier from the war was in possession of gruesome images from that conflict.

In 2003, he was arrested for the illegal trafficking of anabolic steroids, and about 80 photographs of the “massacre” of Muslim civilians in Bosnia and Herzegovina were discovered in his apartment, according to the newspaper Elefterotypia.

In BiH, he acquired the war name “Zvornik wolf” after a town in northern BiH that was the scene of numerous war crimes.

He later told authorities that he had not personally witnessed any of the scenes in the photos. No action was initiated because of his involvement in the war in BiH.

Other paramilitary members from Greece are happy to boast about their alleged involvement in wartime killings.

“When we killed Muslims, there were times when we would celebrate to get rid of tensions from the fighting,” one of them boasted in a 2004 interview with the right-wing newspaper Tachidromos. “In any case, they were very easy to execute. They attacked us, and in 13 minutes we killed 300 of them.”

Others continue to talk on social media about the time they spent fighting in BiH.

The commander of the so-called Greek Volunteer Guard Mitkos is actively promoting the time he spent in Srebrenica on social media. His cover photo shows him in company with Mladic, and was taken near that city.

Another former Greek volunteer Kyriakos Katharios (known as Kiro) became the author, public speaker and negator of genocide upon his return from BiH.

He still proudly talks about the time he spent in the Yugoslav war, giving speeches about the atrocities in Srebrenica, denying the atrocities and calling them “propaganda”.

“For years, I could not accept the story spread by the mainstream media — that I had volunteered in an army accused of genocide. I knew there was another truth somewhere, but we have to look for it,” the former volunteer said during a public address on YouTube.

Commenting on the number of victims, he states, “There’s nothing to substantiate those numbers.”

He insists that he was not in Srebrenica in 1995 or that he was connected to any crimes.

Katharios declined to comment on the story.

Calls for justice are ignored.

In the years after the War in Yugoslavia, some fought in vain for justice.

“It is still the dominant opinion that Greece acted in its national interest by supporting the Serbs,” says Takis Michas, a journalist and author of one of the most important testimonies of Greek participation in the Yugoslav war, a book titled “The Unholy Alliance: Greece and Milosevic’s Serbia”.

In 2005, Greek MP Andreas Andrianopoulos called for an investigation into the involvement of Greek soldiers in Srebrenica.

Andrianopoulos was once a member of New Democracy and the social democratic PASOK movement, i.e. political parties that supported Milosevic and wartime Serb political leader in BiH Radovan Karadzic, who was convicted of genocide.

Andrianopoulos was, and still is, critical of Greece’s role during that war.

“Greece has shown an unprecedentedly tolerant attitude that has made Greeks stand out with darker colors from other peoples of the civilized West,” he wrote.

In 2005, 163 Greek academics, politicians, journalists and political activists issued an invitation to Greece to formally apologize to the victims of Srebrenica for any Greek presence in the area during the massacre.

During the only official preliminary investigation into the matter, which opened in 2005, Michas was called by an Athens prosecutor to testify.

“I gave the names [of the suspects],” he recalled. “Now the prosecutor is asking about the addresses of these people. They had no intention of doing anything about it.”

“During this period, these people openly published their actions and at no time were they arrested and brought in for questioning by the Greek authorities,” Michas recalled.

Michas told BIRN BiH that in 2009, the then Ambassador of Greece to Sarajevo Prokopios Mantzouranis asked the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs to renew calls for an investigation into the activities of “volunteers”.

In 2011, the Athens prosecutor proposed “not to charge” seven Greeks with the act of “murder with intent”, explaining that it was not possible to establish the activities of each of the accused, as well as the identity and number of victims of their alleged criminal activity in the Srebrenica genocide.

Then, in 2014, Mp Maria Yiannakaki demanded answers from Justice Minister Charalambos Athanasiou about the failure to conduct a proper investigation.

The ministry’s response pointed to a decision to dismiss the case, which had been issued three years earlier by the first instance panel of judges.

Yiannakaki alleges that the prosecutor could have opened a second preliminary investigation at this stage.

In 2017, she became secretary-general of the Ministry of Justice, Transparency and Human Rights during greece’s first progressive left-wing government led by Alexis Tsipras and asked for a re-examination of the documentation.

“We are talking here about the biggest crime that took place in Europe after World War II,” she said. “We have names, but these people are still unpunished with the support of the justice system.”
The prosecutor she spoke to responded that the file had been “archived until further notice.”

“[It’s] something that doesn’t exist [in Greek law],” she says, “given that there are names, the prosecutor can open a case whenever he wants.”

Vassilis Tsarnas, a member of the human rights watchdog Helsinki Monitor, was also devastated by the Greek judiciary’s decision.

Together with his colleagues, he has spent years trying to bring Greek paramilitary forces to justice.

He explains that prosecutors were able to reopen the case after the xyzcontagion research group published important documents in 2015 about the involvement of Greek paramilitary forces in yugoslav conflicts.

“With several hundred pages of new evidence, photographs and other materials, we are supported by the associations — the Association ‘Movement of mothers of srebrenica and zepa enclaves’ and the Association of Victims and Witnesses of Genocide — which were ready to support our claims,” Tsarnas said.

But that wasn’t enough for prosecutors, he added.

“Not only did we hand them more evidence, they got more names. And yet, the prosecutor concluded: ‘The perpetrators are unknown,’” Tsarnas recalled.

Greece’s Helsinki Monitor challenged the decision by demanding the dismissal of the plaintiff, but in June 2017 the case was archived, apparently permanently.

“Honestly, we don’t know what else to do in Greece. We are on our own, and the judicial system does not respond,” Tsarnas says. “I personally believe that there is no political will,” he explains. “Greece has no reason to reopen this file, because there is no pressure from outside.”

Yiannakaki agrees and claims that BH would be fine. The courts should now take over this matter. “They should reopen the file,” she says.

BIRN BiH asked the Greek Ministry of Justice if it intends to take any action. In a written response, they stated that it was beyond the jurisdiction of that ministry to take such actions.

“The Greek judicial authorities archived the case for lack of sufficient evidence,” they explained.

Suhra Sinanovic of the Victims’ Association in Bratunac, a town located just a few kilometres from the Srebrenica Memorial Centre, says she is disappointed with the Greek judiciary’s response and urges prosecutors to investigate the role of Greek volunteers.

“Exactly 27 years have passed and no one has been convicted,” she said, adding that the victims had no confidence in the Greek judiciary.

“But we can always hope,” Sinanovic adds.

Originally published: After 27 years, Greek authorities are ignoring evidence that its citizens were present in Srebrenica (detektor.ba)



Katja Lihtenvalner

Journalist. Greece, Western Balkans #PoliticalExtremism #HateSpeech #FakeNews Head of Research at RusaalkaFilms Monitored #GDtrial I train #MuayThai