Thursday 22 February 2018

Judges free army chief jailed for war crimes

Mike Corder The Hague

In a stunning reversal, UN appeals judges have acquitted the former chief of the Yugoslav National Army of aiding and abetting atrocities by rebel Serbs, including the Srebrenica massacre, by providing them with military aid during the Balkan wars.

General Momcilo Perisic, pictured, a former close ally of ex-Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic had been sentenced to 27 years in 2011 after being convicted of crimes including murder, inhumane acts and persecution.

The judges ordered him freed immediately.

The judgment is a rare victory for Serbs at the Yugoslav war crimes tribunal, where most of the convicted suspects have been rebel Serbs in Bosnia and Croatia.

Mr Perisic, who was wearing a dark suit and tie, looked down and raised his eyebrows as Presiding Judge Theodor Meron said his convictions were being overturned in a 4-1 ruling by the five-judge appeals panel.

Mr Perisic's original conviction marked the first time the UN court had found a civilian or military officer from Serbia guilty of war crimes in Bosnia, and was seen as highlighting the Yugoslav army's far-reaching support for Serb forces in both Bosnia and Croatia.

The judge said Perisic's aid to Bosnian Serb forces "was remote to the relevant crimes" committed by in Bosnia.

Irish Independent

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