UN court upholds life sentences for Srebrenica massacre
by Compiled from Wire Services
ISTANBULJan 31, 2015 - 12:00 am GMT+3
by Compiled from Wire Services
Jan 31, 2015 12:00 am
The U.N.'s Yugoslav war crimes court on Friday upheld life convictions of two Bosnian Serbs for their role in the Srebrenica massacre of almost 8,000 Muslim men and boys in 1995. The Appeal Chamber "affirms the life sentence" against former Bosnian Serb Vujadin Popovic, 57, and Ljubisa Beara, 75, Judge Patrick Robinson said at a hearing at the Hague-based tribunal. Both men are former officers in the Bosnian Serb army blamed for the mid-July 1995 massacre regarded as one the worst incidents of bloodshed on European soil since World War II.
Popovic, wearing a dark suit and black T-shirt shook his head as the appeals verdict was read out, while Beara, also in a dark suit and white shirt, stood motionless.
The two men were sentenced to life on genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity charges in 2010, along with five co-accused Serbians by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. Four other army officers and a police official found guilty of war crimes were jailed for between five and 35 years. Three of the officers appealed their sentences. The court upheld a 35-year sentence against Bosnian army security chief Drago Nikolic, 57 and a 13 year sentence against brigade commander Vinko Pandurevic, 55. It reduced a 19-year sentence against Bosnian army operations Chief Radivoje Miletic, 67, by one year.
The Appeals Chamber dismissed, unanimously or by majority, most of the appellants' other challenges in the case, which is the ICTY's largest completed case to date.
The dismissals include challenges to the admissibility and credibility of witnesses testifying in the case that opened in The Hague in 2006. It has seen some 315 witnesses testify during 425 trial days. Twenty individuals have been indicted for crimes committed at Srebrenica, including former top Bosnian Serb politician Radovan Karadzic and his military partner General Ratko Mladic. Both Karadzic, 69 and Mladic, 72 are currently on trial before the court where they face a range of charges including genocide for their roles at Srebrenica.
Set up to try 161 suspects wanted for war crimes and crimes against humanity during the bloody 1990s Balkans wars, the ICTY has concluded 141 proceedings, while 15 others are still ongoing before the court.
Bosnian Serb troops massacred some 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys after taking over the UN-protected safe haven of Srebrenica in July 1995. Some 30,000 women, children and the elderly were expelled from the enclave and their homes.
Dutch U.N. peacekeepers had surrendered the enclave to the Bosnian Serbs, under the command of General Ratko Mladic, without firing a shot. In 2009, the European Parliament declared July 11 to be a day of remembrance for victims of the biggest war crime in Europe since World War II.
The U.N. war crimes tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague has charged 19 people over the massacre seven were sentenced to long jail terms in June 2010, two of them for genocide.