Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Bosnia:Landmark conviction of JNA Army chief Momcilo Perisic proves Serbia's guilt in Bosnian war crimes

UN court jails ex-Yugoslav army chief

Posted September 07, 2011 05:58:32
A UN war crimes court has sentenced ex-Yugoslav army chief Momcilo Perisic to 27 years in jail for helping the Bosnian Serb army murder and persecute Bosnian Muslims including at Srebrenica in 1995.
His sentencing sparked mixed reactions in the Balkans, with Serbia calling it excessive and Bosnia too lenient.
Perisic, 67, the Yugoslav army's highest-ranking officer, was found guilty of 12 of 13 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity, including at Srebrenica, scene of Europe's worst wartime atrocity since World War II, as well as the shelling and sniping of the Bosnian capital Sarajevo during its infamous siege from 1992-95.
He is the first official from the Belgrade-controlled Yugoslav republic to be convicted for crimes committed in Bosnia. Belgrade has always denied any involvement in the war in Bosnia.
Bakone Moloto, presiding judge at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, said Perisic knew the Bosnian Serb army's actions "encompassed grave crimes against the civilian population".
Prosecutors in March asked for life imprisonment against Perisic, a close collaborator of Serbian strongman Slobodan Milosevic who died in his Hague detention cell in 2006.
Perisic is the only senior Yugoslav official to be sentenced before the court for the Srebrenica massacre after Milosevic, also implicated in the mass killings, died mid-trial.
The 18 other defendants for their role at Srebrenica are mainly Bosnian Serbs, including former army chief Ratko Mladic, the court's most wanted man until his arrest in May.
Reaction in the Balkans to the sentencing was mixed, with Serbia saying it was excessive, and Bosnia saying it was too mild.
"I regret this extremely high sentence," Serbian defence minister Dragan Sutanovac was quoted by Blic daily's Internet site as saying.
In Bosnia, the sentence was slammed, with Srebrenica massacre survivors also saying it would not contribute to reconciliation in the volatile Balkan region.
The judgement "is killing the victims again", the head of the Srebrenica Mothers association, Munira Subasic, told the Bosnian ONASA news agency.
Natasa Kandic, a prominent Serbian human rights activist, said "the verdict is appropriate and corresponds" to the crimes he was found guilty of, Belgrade-based Beta news agency reported.

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