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Ex-Mayor in Bosnia Gets Life Term

Serb was acquitted of genocide but convicted of crimes that led to 1,500 deaths in 1992.

August 01, 2003|From Associated Press

THE HAGUE — The U.N. war crimes tribunal for the former Yugoslavia imposed its harshest punishment to date Thursday, sentencing a Bosnian Serb politician to life in prison for exterminating or deporting thousands of Muslims and Croats in 1992.

Though acquitted of genocide, Milomir Stakic was convicted of being a leading figure in a campaign of persecution "to achieve the vision of a pure Serbian state," according to a summary of the verdict read in court.

Stakic, a 41-year-old doctor, was convicted of directly planning and coordinating war crimes and was held responsible for subordinates who killed 1,500 people and forced at least 20,000 non-Serb civilians from their homes in the northwestern Bosnian municipality of Prijedor, where he was mayor.

It was the third acquittal on genocide charges by the tribunal and was another signal that the court is demanding rock-hard proof of an intent to destroy a group of people because of race, religion or ethnicity.

The Hague court has convicted only one defendant -- Bosnian Serb Gen. Radislav Krstic -- of genocide. Until Thursday, Krstic's 46-year sentence was the harshest on record for the tribunal. His case is under appeal.

Stakic was convicted on five counts of crimes against humanity and war crimes, specifically extermination, murder and persecution.

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