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Two Bosnian Serb officers get life sentences for Srebrenica massacre

The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia has convicted seven former Bosnian Serb officers on charges ranging from war crimes to genocide in the court's biggest trial to date.

ICTY courtroom

The trial was the biggest the court has yet conducted

Four years after the trial began, a United Nations court has convicted two Bosnian Serbs on charges of genocide for their involvement in the 1995 massacre of around 7,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica.

The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in the Hague gave life sentences to former Bosnian Serb army officers Vujadin Popovic and Ljubisa Beara. If their convictions are upheld on appeal, they will be the only individuals so far to be convicted by the court of genocide.

The court convicted one former army officer, Drago Nikolic, of aiding and abetting genocide. He received 35 years in prison.

The remaining four on trial - Milan Gvero, Vinco Pandurevic, Ljubomir Borovcanin and Radivoje Miletic - were convicted of various war crimes and received sentences of five, 13, 17 and 19 years respectively.

The trial was the largest ever conducted at the ICTY, admitting more than 5,300 exhibits and hearing 315 witnesses. It opened in July 2006 and closing arguments finished last September.

Wartime massacre

Dutch peacekeeping troops in the UN-protected, Muslim-majority enclave of Srebrenica were overrun by Bosnian Serb forces in July 1995. The invading forces then murdered thousands of able-bodied Muslim men and boys and buried them in mass graves in a campaign to cleanse the area of Bosniaks, or Bosnian Muslims.

Crime scene photo of a skull in Srebrenica

Around 7,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys were murdered and buried in mass graves

By the time the war ended in November 1995, nearly all Muslims in Srebrenica and the nearby village of Zepa were either killed, forcibly removed or had fled.

The ICTY has indicted a total of 21 individuals in connection with the Srebrenica massacre. Radislav Krstic, the general who led the attack, had already been convicted of aiding and abetting genocide.

The trials of Radovan Karadzic, former president of the semi-autonomous Republika Srpska, and former military officer Zdravko Tolimir are continuing. The war-time leader of the Bosnian Serb army, Ratko Mladic, has been indicted but remains at large.

Author: Andrew Bowen (dpa/AP/AFP)
Editor: Nancy Isenson

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