Bosnian Serb jailed for 30 years for Srebrenica crime

Bosnia`s war crimes court jailed an ex- Serb officer for 30 yrs on a charge of genocide for killing dozens of people during the 1995 Srebrenica massacre.

Updated: Oct 16, 2009, 23:11 PM IST

Sarajevo: Bosnia`s war crimes court jailed a former Serb officer for 30 years Friday on a charge of genocide for killing dozens of people during the 1995 Srebrenica massacre of Muslims.
The court acquitted former army captain Milorad Trbic, 51, of three other counts of genocide due to lack of evidence, the head of the judicial council Davorin Jukic said, in a decision that angered relatives of the victims.

Trbic was found guilty of taking part in the persecution of Bosnian Muslims from the Srebrenica enclave and their detention, summary executions, burial and covering traces of crime.

Some 8,000 Muslim men and boys were killed in the Srebrenica massacre after Bosnian Serb forces captured the eastern enclave on July 11, 1995, in what is regarded as Europe`s worst atrocity since World War II.

Trbic took part in a "joint criminal enterprise" with other Serb army officers and organized the forcible transfer of Muslims from Srebrenica between July 10 and November 30, 1995, judge Jukic said.

He supervised the detention of thousands of Muslims in several schools around Srebrenica, where they were kept in inhuman conditions, as well as transportation to the killing fields where they were executed en masse, Jukic said.

Trbic himself shot dead a group of "at least 20 Muslims" in the Grbavci school on one occasion, and a group of "at least 5 Muslims" in the Rocevici school on another occasion.

He was involved in the exhumation of victims from original mass graves and their later transfer to "secondary mass graves" to hide the traces of the crime.

Remains of more than 6,000 Srebrenica victims have been found in mass graves across the eastern Bosnia but only about 3,800 bodies have been identified so far.

In the courtroom Jukic did not refer to the charge on which Trbic was convicted as genocide, leading relatives to believe that he had been acquitted on all such charges.

"The sentence was a reward for him. The court might as well have set him free," Hatidza Mehmedovic told Reuters. She lost her husband and two sons in the massacre.

The court later issued a statement clarifying the verdict, but relatives remained upset about the outcome.

After the Bosnian 1992-95 war, Trbic escaped to the United States but was found guilty of breaking immigration laws. In 2005 he was handed over to the Hague-based International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY).

The ICTY, which indicted Trbic on charges of genocide, crimes against humanity and violations of laws or customs of war, transferred Trbic to Bosnia for trial in June 2007.

The Bosnian war crimes court opened in 1995 to help ease the burden from the ICTY, which plans to wind down by end of 2010, taking over low- or mid-ranking cases.

Bureau Report