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2 Bosnian Serbs convicted of burning Muslims alive in 1992

Milan Lukic receives life in prison and his cousin Sredoje Lukic gets 30 years for herding scores of victims into homes, setting fires and shooting those who fled the flames.

July 21, 2009|Associated Press

THE HAGUE — A United Nations war crimes court convicted two Bosnian Serb cousins Monday for a 1992 killing spree that included locking scores of Muslims in two houses and burning them alive.

Judge Patrick Robinson of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia said burning at least 119 Muslims to death in the eastern Bosnian town of Visegrad "exemplified the worst acts of inhumanity that one person may inflict on others."

He sentenced Milan Lukic to life in prison and Sredoje Lukic to 30 years.

Robinson said Milan Lukic was the ringleader in both incidents, helping herd victims into the houses, setting the fires and shooting those who fled the flames. The judgment said his cousin Sredoje Lukic aided and abetted in one of the blazes.

Witnesses "vividly remembered the terrible screams of the people in the house," Robinson said, adding that Milan Lukic used the butt of his rifle to herd people into the house, saying, "Come on, let's get as many people inside as possible."

The victims ranged from 2 days old to 75.

Milan Lukic shook his head but looked unmoved as Robinson pronounced the sentence. Sredoje Lukic leaned back in his chair, his face blank.

Robinson, a veteran judge at the tribunal that has prosecuted Balkan war crimes for 15 years, sounded stunned by the atrocities.

"In the all-too-long, sad and wretched history of man's inhumanity to man, the Pionirska street and Bikavac fires must rank high," he said.

Milan Lukic also was convicted of murdering 12 other Muslims, shooting them in the back on the banks of the Drina River, which runs through Visegrad, so the current would sweep their bodies away.

He led a paramilitary group known both as the "White Eagles" and the "Avengers," which terrorized Muslims in Visegrad. His cousin was a local policeman and a member of the group.

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