Monday 19 March 2018

Former Serb policeman jailed for 20 years over Srebrenica

BOSNIA’S war crimes court jailed a former Serb police officer for 20 years on Friday for his role in the 1995 mass killing of Muslims in Srebrenica, the worst atrocity on European soil since World War Two.

Bozidar Kuvelja, 41, was found guilty of crimes against humanity but cleared of genocide.

The court has jailed more than 20 former Bosnian Serb soldiers and police officers over the Srebrenica massacres in which some 8,000 Muslim men and boys were killed and dumped in mass graves.

"Kuvelja is convicted of taking part in the persecution and forced removal of Bosniaks (Bosnian Muslims) from Srebrenica on religious and ethnic grounds and the killing of several dozen detainees at a warehouse in nearby Kravica between July 11 and July 14," presiding judge Jasmina Kosovic said.

Kosovic said the panel of judges could not conclude beyond reasonable doubt that Kuvelja knew of the genocidal intent of the principal perpetrators of the massacres.

Declared a "safe haven" by the United Nations, Srebrenica in eastern Bosnia fell to Bosnian Serb forces under General Ratko Mladic towards the end of the 1992-95 was, in which about 100,000 people died.

Mladic and his wartime political master, Radovan Karadzic, are standing trial at the U.N. war crimes tribunal in The Hague, on charges that include genocide in Srebrenica.

Kuvelja was an officer in the special police brigade of the Jahorina Training Centre, part of the Bosnian Serb Interior Ministry. He was accused of helping round up Bosnian Muslim civilians, dividing men from women and transporting detainees to dozens of execution sites, including a warehouse in Kravica.

In Kravica, Kosovic said, "members of Kuvelja's brigade fired from automatic weapons and threw hand grenades into the packed warehouse."

Around 100 who initially survived the assault were lured out for medical treatment, only to be fired on again by Kuvelja's brigade while forced to sing nationalist Serbian songs, the judge said.

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