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Thursday, December 13, 2012 - Page updated at 09:30 p.m.
Bosnian general guilty in Srebrenica massacre
By MARLISE SIMONS
The New York Times
PARIS — A former senior commander of the Bosnian Serb Army, Zdravko Tolimir, was convicted of genocide Wednesday and sentenced to life in prison for his role in the killings of thousands of prisoners near the Bosnian town of Srebrenica in July 1995.
Judges at the U.N. tribunal in The Hague, voting 2-1, said Tolimir had been found guilty because, as the army’s head of intelligence, he knew of the plans to commit “horrific mass murder” of Bosnian Muslim prisoners and played a pivotal role in the crime. He “deliberately participated” in the destruction of the Muslim communities under U.N. protection in the towns of Srebrenica and Zepa, the judges said.
The presiding judge, Christoph Fluegge of Germany, stressed that Tolimir, 64, had failed in his duty to protect the prisoners of war before they were led away to the killing sites, inside buildings and in open fields.
Tolimir, a general, was the right-hand man of the overall Bosnian Serb Army commander, Gen. Ratko Mladic, whose trial is under way in a nearby courtroom.
When Fluegge said, “Mr. Tolimir, you are hereby sentenced to life imprisonment,” the defendant made the sign of the cross several times.
For the tribunal dealing with crimes after the breakup of Yugoslavia, the verdict was its fifth conviction for genocide. Two former Bosnian Serb officers, both subordinates of Tolimir, had earlier been given life sentences. Two other Bosnian Serbs are serving 35-year prison terms for aiding and abetting genocide.
The court has issued genocide convictions only for crimes committed in Srebrenica, angering victim- and human-rights groups that are convinced that genocide also occurred in northern and eastern Bosnia, where Serbian forces first began their ethnic-cleansing campaign in 1992, expelling many thousands of non-Serbs. Others were imprisoned, tortured, raped and, at times, burned alive in their own homes.
During the Bosnian war, from 1992 to 1995, an estimated 100,000 civilians and fighters were killed, including Croats and Serbs, but most of the victims were Muslim civilians. The war began after Bosnians tried to break away from Yugoslavia, and Serbs launched a violent campaign to create lands only for Serbs. During that campaign and in subsequent fighting, 1.5 million people were displaced.
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