7 Bosnian Serbs are convicted in '95 Srebrenica massacre
War crimes court acquits 4 others
SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina - The Bosnian war crimes court convicted seven Bosnian Serbs of genocide yesterday in the 1995 massacre of Bosnian Muslims at Srebrenica and handed down prison sentences ranging from 38 to 42 years. Four others were acquitted.
Issuing their first sentence related to Europe's worst massacre since World War II, judges at the war crimes court sent three of the former policemen to jail for 42 years, another three away for 40 years, and one for 38 years.
The verdict comes as Serbia prepares to extradite former Serb political leader Radovan Karadzic - also indicted for genocide in Srebrenica - to the separate UN war crimes tribunal in the Netherlands. Karadzic was arrested last week in Belgrade after hiding for more than a decade.
The seven men sentenced yesterday were found guilty of killing more than 1,000 captured Bosnian Muslim men and boys after Bosnian Serb forces overran the eastern town of Srebrenica - a UN-guarded enclave for civilians during the 1992-95 Bosnian war.
The seven hunted down Muslims who tried to escape the Serb roundup. Many victims surrendered after being told they would be safe, but instead, about 1,000 were brought to a warehouse and killed inside by automatic rifles and hand grenades.
The Bosnian court said the convicted men's crimes were part of a widespread, systematic attack against Bosnian Muslims in Srebrenica, carried out by Serb forces "with a joint plan to annihilate" the group.
In all, about 8,000 Bosnian men and boys were slaughtered at Srebrenica, a massacre the International Court of Justice in The Hague has deemed genocide.
Widows and mothers of the victims were in the courtroom when the verdict was read.
"Nothing can ease my pain," said Munira Subasic, a woman from Srebrenica who lost her husband and son in the massacre. Her son's body has never been found, although more than 3,200 other victims have been found in nearby mass graves, identified through DNA analysis, and reburied.
Subasic said that despite the sentences issued yesterday, the Bosnian Serb forces did succeed in establishing a territory "on the blood of our children." Srebrenica is now part of the Bosnian Serb ministate Republika Srpska, created during the war.
The Serb troops were led by the fugitive general Ratko Mladic. Along with Mladic, Karadzic is accused of masterminding the Srebrenica genocide and faces 11 war crimes charges in The Hague.