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By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent BosNewsLife
BUDAPEST/THE HAGUE (BosNewsLife)– A United Nations court has sentenced former Bosnian Serb general Zdravko Tolimir to life imprisonment for crimes committed during the Balkan war in the mid-1990s, including his involvement in killing thousands of Muslims.
After more than five years in detention, the 64-year-old Zdravko Tolimir was told he would spend the rest of his life behind bars.
Judges at the United Nations tribunal in The Hague, voting 2 to 1, found him guilty of playing a key role in the massacre in the Bosnian town of Srebrenica.
Some 8,000 Muslim men and boys were killed after Bosnian Serb forces captured the town in 1995. It was Europe’s worst atrocity since World War Two.
Tolimir was called the “right hand man and eyes and ears” of Bosnian Serb military commander Ratko Mladic during a conflict that killed 100,000 people. Mladic himself is also on trial at the UN court.
TOLIMIR DENIES WRONGDOING
Tolimir argued that he didn’t know about the atrocities and wasn’t even there.
Yet, presiding judge Christoph Flügge, of Germany, disagreed saying there was prove that Tolimir knew what happened.
As an example the judge said the court learned that Tolimir called-off a prison to be prepared for thousands of men from Srebrenica. “The majority has found that the accused in ordering that the preparstions should be stopped had knowledge that these men would be murdered instead,” Flügge said calmly.
Wednesday’s verdict was the fifth conviction for genocide by the tribunal dealing with crimes after the bloody breakup of Yugoslavia.
Two former Bosnian Serb officers, both subordinates of Tolimir, were given life sentences. Two other Bosnian Serbs are serving 35-year prison terms for aiding and abetting genocide.