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A man mourns at the grave of his father and brother who were killed in the Srebrenica massacre
Victims groups and survivors have protested the verdictImage: dpa

War Criminal Convicted

DW staff / AFP (kjb)
September 28, 2006

High-ranking Bosnian Serb politician Momcilo Krajisnik was sentenced Wednesday in The Hague to 27 years in prison for his role in Bosnia's "ethnic cleansing" but was acquitted of genocide.


Momcilo Krajisnik is one of the highest ranking Bosnian Serb politicians to be convicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague over the 1992-1995 Bosnia war, which cost some 200,000 people their lives.

The verdict was met with outrage from Bosnian victims' groups that said they were shocked Krajisnik was acquitted of genocide.

The judges concluded that although Krajisnik was part of a joint criminal enterprise aimed at driving Muslims and Croats out of parts of Bosnia, and there was some evidence that genocidal acts did take place, it could not be proved that he had intended to commit genocide.

Krajisnik, a close ally of fugitive Bosnian Serb wartime leader Radovan Karadzic, "knew about and intended mass detention and expulsion of civilians," the judges said.

Five counts of war crimes

Momcilo Krajisnik listens stoically in court as his verdict is read
The verdict: five counts of war crimes against Muslims and Croats in the Bosnian WarImage: AP

"Mr Krajisnik wanted the Muslim and the Croat population moved out of Bosnian Serb territory in large numbers and accepted that a heavy price of suffering, death and destruction was necessary to achieve Serb domination and a viable statehood," Judge Alphons Orie said.

Krajisnik, 61, his face dominated by his graying brows and shock of grey hair, listened to the verdict without emotion.

The former speaker of the Bosnian Serb parliament was found guilty of five counts of war crimes, including persecution, extermination, murder, deportation and forced transfer.

In the early years of the war, Bosnian Serb forces launched widespread attacks on Bosnian Muslim and Bosnian Croat villages, killing many people and forcing the remainder to leave.

They also set up detention camps where thousands of non-Serbs were held in inhumane conditions and subjected to torture and rape.

Victims incensed by verdict

"The sentence is a major blow to justice. It is an insult for the victims," said Bakira Hasecic, who heads a victims association called Women -- Victims of War.

In 1992 Hasecic was raped by Bosnian Serb troops and expelled from Visegrad, one of the towns featured in the indictment against Krajisnik.

The judges said Krajisnik had played a "crucial" role in this campaign of "ethnic cleansing" or forced expulsion.

Sulejman Tihic, the Muslim chairman of Bosnia's tripartite presidency, said the verdict "partially served justice."

"I hope that the prosecutor will appeal the verdict and that Krajisnik will be found guilty of genocide in a final judgment," said Tihic, who went through Serbian-run detention camps during the war.

Two masterminds at large

A man looks at posters announcing a reward for information leading to the arrest of Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic
Masterminds Karadzic and Mladic are still at largeImage: dpa

The prosecution had asked for a life sentence for Krajisnik. Anton Nikiforov, the prosecution's spokesman, told AFP they would study the verdict before deciding if they would appeal.

Krajisnik maintained his innocence throughout the trial and said he was not aware that any crimes had been committed. His defense had asked for acquittal on all charges.

His brother Mirko told journalists outside the tribunal that the defense would launch an appeal.

Radovan Karadzic and his wartime military commander Ratko Mladic -- the two alleged masterminds of the Bosnian Serb campaign of "ethnic cleansing" -- are still on the run.

They face charges including genocide over the 1995 massacre of nearly 8,000 Muslim men and boys at the eastern Bosnian town of Srebrenica.

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