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Two Bosnian Serb officials convicted of crimes against humanity

March 27, 2013|By Emily Alpert
  • Former Bosnian Serb security official Stojan Zupljanin, second from the left, and former Bosnian Serb Interior Minister Mico Stanisic, standing at right, arrive in court in The Hague.
Former Bosnian Serb security official Stojan Zupljanin, second from the… (Michael Kooren / Pool Photo )

Two Bosnian Serb officials each must spend 22 years in prison for their roles in a campaign of murder and torture against Muslims and Croats in the 1990s, a U.N. war crimes tribunal ruled Wednesday.

As interior minister for the breakaway Serb Republic of Srpska, Mico Stanisic “both intended and significantly contributed to the plan to remove Bosnian Muslims and Bosnian Croats from the territory of the planned Serbian state,” as did senior security official Stojan Zupljanin, said a judgment read out by Judge Burton Hall in The Hague.

The two were found guilty of torture, persecution and murder, among other crimes. Zupljanin was also convicted of extermination; Stanisic was acquitted of that offense.

Though the grotesque crimes that occurred against Croats and Muslims at the hands of Serb police and paramilitaries were foreseeable, neither Stanisic nor Zupljanin did anything to stop or punish them, Hall said. Both men had pleaded not guilty to the charges.

The court, known as the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, described the horrific treatment of Muslim detainees who were beaten, sexually abused and in some instances forced to eat the severed parts of other prisoners’ bodies by Serb paramilitary fighters during the 1992-95 conflict. Other Muslim and Croat prisoners were raped or forced to watch family members be executed.

At one camp, Hall said, the commander, Goran Jelisi, yelled for volunteers to be lined up and beaten before one was pulled out of line, forced to lie down, and shot in the back of the head. The other detainees were made to remove the body before another prisoner was chosen and shot. Fifty men are estimated to have lost their lives that way over the course of at least five nights, Hall said.

The two convicts may have the time already spent in detention credited to their sentences, the court said Wednesday in its judgment summary. Stanisic has been in custody for eight years, while Zupljanin has been detained for nearly five years.

The Yugoslav tribunal has carried out proceedings against 136 people since it was created. Six cases remain to be decided; four are being appealed.

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