By Tristan Simoneau
Impunity Watch Reporter, Europe
THE HAGUE, Netherlands – On Thursday seven former Bosnian Serb military leaders were convicted for war crimes related to the 1995 Srebrenica massacre of thousands of Muslim men in the former Yugoslavia. A total of 5,300 exhibits were admitted and 315 witnesses were heard during the four-year trial, the biggest to date at the Hague-based International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). Two of the military leaders, Ljubisa Beara and Vujadin Popovic, were sentenced to life in prison by the UN court. Beara and Popovic received life sentences for “genocide, extermination, murder, and persecution”. The judges found they were key henchmen of commander General Ratko Mladic, who is still on the run. Five other officers were sentenced to between 5 and 35 years for lesser crimes. The ICTY has so far indicted 21 individuals for crimes committed in Srebrenica.
The Srebrenica massacre resulted in the deaths of more than 7,000 Muslim men and boys. Most were killed while trying to escape through the woods, or arrested and then taken to places of execution before burial in mass graves. The executions took place between July 13 and 23, 1995 after Bosnian Serb forces overran Dutch peacekeepers in the UN-protected zones of Srebrenica and Zepa.
“The scale and nature of the murder operation, with the staggering number of killings, the systematic and organized manner in which it was carried out, the targeting and relentless pursuit of the victims, and the plain intention, apparent from the evidence, to eliminate every Bosnian Muslim male who was captured or surrendered proves beyond reasonable doubt that this was genocide,” the trial chamber found. The five-day slaughter was the worst European massacre since World War II.
The Srebrenica massacre is part of indictments against Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, whose trial is still ongoing, and Bosnian Serb army leader Ratko Mladic, who is still being sought for genocide. Mladic has been a fugitive for 15 years and is the most wanted man in Europe. His fugitive status is a major obstacle for Serbia’s ambitions of joining the European Union. The Serbian Parliament officially condemned the massacre in March.
For more information, please see:
CNN – Seven convicted over 1995 Sebrenica Massacre — 10 June 2010
INDITOP – Seven Bosnian Serbs convicted for Srebrenica Massacre — 10 June 2010
REUTERS – Bosnian Serbs convicted for Sebrenica war crimes — 10 June 2010