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Serbian official's war crimes conviction closes chapter in the Balkan wars

A former Serbian police chief has been found guilty of crimes including the murder of more than 700 Kosovo Albanians. It was the last case related to war crimes committed in Kosovo during the Balkan wars.

Vlastimir Djordjevic at his trial at the Hague

Djordjevic is thought to have been behind mass graves found last year

The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) convicted and sentenced a former Serbian police chief to 27 years in prison on Wednesday for his role in the "ethnic cleansing" of Kosovo Albanians in the Balkan wars of the 1990s.

Vlastimir Djordjevic's conviction marks the end of the last case dealing with crimes committed in Kosovo to come before the ICTY, which sits in The Hague. According to the court, more than 30 trials related to war crimes committed elsewhere in the Balkans are ongoing.

The United Nations tribunal found Djordjevic guilty of leading his forces to murder at least 724 Kosovo Albanians, deporting 800,000 others, committing inhumane acts and persecution on racial grounds.

Mass grave

Reports said Djordjevic, 62, gave no visible reaction as the judge read his verdict.

ICTY prosecutor Chester Stamp had argued Djordjevic was part of an ethnic cleansing campaign by Yugoslavian and Serb forces to expel one third of the Albanians living in Kosovo.

Djordjevic was an aide to Serbian strongman Slobodan Milosevic. Milosevic died before the end of his trial at The Hague on charges including genocide against non-Serbian groups during his rule.

Investigators are still uncovering traces of the brutal Balkan wars. Last year, Serbian authorities discovered a mass grave outside the Serbian capital Belgrade which they believed Djordjevic had tried to cover up.

Author: Shant Shahrigian (AP, AFP, dpa)
Editor: Michael Lawton

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