Around 30 journalists and editors from several media outlets in Serbia are being accused of “inciting war crimes,” according to a latest investigation, which is still in its early stages.
The national television network RTS, notorious for its wartime reporting, may also be included in the probe. Its management issued an official apology a few years ago.
"We are now seeking elements to launch an official probe into some journalists and editors for inciting or instigating war crimes," the prosecutor's spokesman Bruno Vekaric told AFP.
The probe has prompted a wide debate in Serbia, with some journalists' associations backing the move while others, calling it a witch-hunt.
Ljiljana Smajlovic, of the formerly pro-Milosevic Association of Serbia's Journalists, faulted prosecutors for not investigating the politicians controlling media at the time.
"The prosecution does not want to go into who instructed the journalists, who created the state propaganda, it just wants to blame some reporters as the weakest link in the chain," Smajlovic said.
But she stressed that if there is any concrete evidence a journalist incited a war crime, that person should be prosecuted.
The media horror stories were aimed at the "complete dehumanisation of enemies", said Serbia's war crimes prosecutor Vladimir Vukcevic
"Such propaganda cleared the executioners from any moral dilemmas and that is why media propaganda in the former Yugoslavia was a prelude to the (1990s) war," he said.
Unlike the United Nations war crimes court for Rwanda, which tried and severely sentenced journalists on charges of inciting genocide and crimes against humanity, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia has never officially probed wartime reporting.