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Bosnian jailed in Serbia for war crimes

By Dusan Stojanovic
Associated Press Writer / September 28, 2009

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BELGRADE, Serbia—A Serbian court on Monday convicted a wartime Bosnian security officer of ordering a 1992 attack on a Yugoslav army convoy that killed at least 50 soldiers and sentenced him to 12 years in prison

The trial of Ilija Jurisic at the Serbian war crimes court has strained relations between Bosnia and Serbia. Bosnian officials had claimed the proceedings were staged and politically motivated and demanded his release.

Jurisic was found guilty of ordering the attack against the Serb-led army convoy consisting of dozens of army trucks carrying some 100 soldiers withdrawing from the predominantly Muslim Bosnian town of Tuzla in May 1992.

The court said in its verdict that the Bosnian troops first killed the truck drivers with sniper fire, and then fired mortars and rocket-propelled grenades at the idled vehicles. At least 44 army soldiers were also injured in the clash.

Bosnian authorities have maintained that the Yugoslav soldiers fired first during the pullout arranged between Belgrade and Sarajevo. They said the Bosnian troops acted in self-defense in one of the bloodiest clashes during the opening days of the 1992-95 Bosnian war.

Jurisic, who was arrested at Belgrade airport two years ago, had maintained his innocence during the highly publicized trial.

His defense lawyer Djordje Dozet called the verdict "scandalous," claiming the court did not establish that Jurisic issued the order to attack. He announced an appeal.

Bruno Vekaric, spokesman for the Serbian war crimes prosecutors, said the verdict "represents satisfaction for the families of the victims." He said it was up to the Serbian and Bosnian authorities to agree in which country Jurisic would serve his sentence.

The war in Bosnia started after the country's Muslims and Croats voted to split from Serb-led Yugoslavia, triggering a rebellion by the Bosnian Serbs. The conflict -- which saw Europe's worst bloodshed since World War II -- lasted until a U.S.-brokered peace deal was signed in 1995.

(This version CORRECTS that Jurisic was arrested two years ago, sted three.)