YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

The World

5 Bosnian Serbs Sentenced for Camp Torture, Murder

November 03, 2001|From Associated Press

THE HAGUE — Five Bosnian Serbs were convicted Friday of war crimes and sentenced to prison terms of up to 25 years for murder and torture at a prison camp in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Judge Almiro Rodrigues of the U.N. war crimes tribunal in The Hague told the men they had all known about or participated in rape, murder and persecution at the camp as part of a "widespread, systematic system of camps" intended to wipe out the non-Serb population in the Bosnian town of Prijedor.

"You participated in this hellish orgy of persecution," he said, reading out the court's verdict for over an hour. "You knew what was happening."

The court found the men guilty of crimes against humanity and war crimes and handed down prison terms of five to 25 years.

Prosecutors had asked the panel of three U.N. judges to sentence the men to between 25 years and life. The defendants all pleaded not guilty.

Mitigating circumstances reduced some of the sentences.

The U.N. court has rendered sentences of up to 46 years against Muslims, Croats and Serbs found responsible for Balkan atrocities in the decade of wars that resulted from the breakup of the former Yugoslavia.

Images of half-naked, starved inmates at the Omarska camp run by Bosnian Serbs in 1992 during the Bosnian war jolted the world's conscience and prompted calls for intervention.

About 6,000 Muslims and Croats were held in Omarska--a former mining complex about 12 miles from Prijedor--and two other nearby camps.

Four of the defendants--Miroslav Kvocka, 44, Milojica Kos, 38, Mlado Radic, 49, and Dragoljub Prcac, 64--were convicted of running Omarska as commandants and deputy commanders. A fifth defendant, taxi driver Zoran Zigic, 43, was convicted of torturing and killing prisoners.

Omarska was one of three camps in the Prijedor region of northern Bosnia, along with Keraterm and Trnopolje. They operated for about five months in the spring and summer of 1992. Prosecutors compared Omarska to the Nazi death camps of World War II.

Los Angeles Times Articles