Serb ex-policemen get up to 35 years in jail for Bosnian genocide
Rusmir Smajilhodzic, Agence France-Presse
(published with permission)
SARAJEVO — A Bosnian court on Friday handed down stiff sentences against two former Bosnian Serb policemen for “aiding genocide” when they oversaw killings during the 1995 Srebrenica massacre of 8,000 Bosniaks.
Dusko Jevic and Mendeljev Djuric were sentenced to 35 and 30 years in jail respectively for ordering their men to take part in the separation of the men from other refugees in Srebrenica and later to carry out an all-night, all-day killing spree of more than 1,000 captured Bosniaks.
After they captured the UN-protected enclave of Srebrenica in eastern Bosnia on July 11, 1995, Bosnian Serb troops separated the fighting-age men from the rest of the tens of thousands of Bosniak refugees who gathered around the UN base in Potocari, hoping for protection.
The women, children and the elderly were bussed out to nearby Bosniak-held territory.
In the days that followed, the Bosnian Serbs killed 8,000 Bosniak men and boys captured around Srebrenica and buried them in mass graves.
At the time Jevic was a deputy commander of a special Bosnian Serb police brigade, while Djuric commanded the brigade’s 1st company.
Jevic and Djuric “aided in the partial destruction of an ethnic group and are guilty of aiding genocide,” Sarajevo court judge Mira Smajlovic ruled.
“With their participation in the massacre the members of this unit were a link in the chain that was carrying out a genocide,” added the judge.
According to the ruling, the police brigade’s 1st company took part in the separation of “more than 1,000 Bosniak men from their families” in Potocari, just outside of Srebrenica, “knowing that these men will be taken for execution.”
The company later also joined in the killing of more than 1,000 men on the site of an agricultural warehouse in nearby Kravica, where Srebrenica captives were taken, the court found.
“They replaced another unit that started with the executions at the site and killed prisoners during the whole night of July 13th and the whole day of July 14th,” the judge said.
After first firing on the prisoners packed into the warehouse with semi-automatic weapons the 1st company then threw grenades inside the building.
After several hours they called for survivors, offering medical help but when some men staggered out they were lined up and shot on the spot, the court said.
Two other former policemen from the same company were acquitted Friday because of lack of evidence against them.
The maximum sentence for any war crimes case in Bosnia is 45 years in prison, but sentences of over thirty years are rarely handed out and usually only to those accused over Srebrenica.
The Srebrenica massacre was the worst single atrocity in Europe since World War II and was ruled a genocide by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and the UN’s top court, the International Court of Justice.
While those deemed most responsible for the massacre– like wartime Bosnian Serb military commander Ratko Mladic arrested in Serbia last year– are being tried by the ICTY, Bosnia’s own war crimes chamber has tried over a dozen Serbs for taking part in the genocide.
In all some 100,000 people were killed during the brutal 1992-95 war between Bosnia’s Croats, Bosniaks and Serbs. The conflict left the country deeply divided along ethnic lines.