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UN judges uphold 22-year jail term for Bosnian Serb leaders

world Updated: Jun 30, 2016 22:31 IST
Yugoslav war crimes court

This combination of file pictures shows former Bosnian Serb interior minister Mico Stanisic (left) and Bosnian Serb war crimes suspect Stojan Zupljanin.(AFP)

The Yugoslav war crimes court on Thursday threw out an appeal brought by two former top Bosnian Serb officials against their conviction and upheld a 22-year jail term imposed for their roles in the 1990s conflict.

Mico Stanisic and Stojan Zupljanin had appealed against the 2013 sentence after they were convicted of leading a campaign to rid Bosnia of Muslims, Croats and other non-Serbs during the 1992-1995 conflict.

The two men were close associates of one-time Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, who was found guilty in March on charges of genocide and war crimes for his role in the fighting that killed more than 100,000 people and left 2.2 million others homeless.

The appeals chamber at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia dismissed in their “entirety” the appeals brought by Stanisic and Zupljanin, upheld the convictions, and “affirms the sentences of 22 years of imprisonment,” judge Carmel Agius said.

Stanisic, 62, a former Bosnian Serb interior minister, and ex-regional security services chief Zupljanin, 64, were convicted of 10 charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity including murder and torture.

They were also accused of the cruel treatment of non-Serbs in municipalities and detention centres during the war triggered by the break-up of the former Yugoslavia after the fall of communism.

The prosecution had also appealed the sentence as too light “for the seriousness of the crimes.”

But while the appeals chamber partly found the prosecution’s appeal justified, it refused to impose new sentences against the men.

The two men “are to remain in the custody of the Tribunal pending the finalisation of arrangements for their transfer to the state where their sentence will be served,” Judge Agius said.

Based in The Hague, the ICTY in March 2013 convicted the two men of taking part in a joint criminal enterprise known as ethnic-cleansing to remove non-Serbs from Bosnia’s municipalities marked to become part of the Serbian state.

They were found to have allowed forces under their command to engage in the “violent takeover of those municipalities and the ensuing widespread and systematic campaign of terror and violence.”