July 2, 2009 / 1:47 PM / 11 years ago

Bosnian Serb gets 14 yrs jail for wartime massacre

SARAJEVO, July 2 (Reuters) - Bosnia’s war crimes court on Thursday sentenced a former Serb policeman to 14 years in jail for crimes against humanity in a massacre of more than 200 Muslims and Croats early in the country’s 1992-95 war.

Damir Ivankovic, 39, had struck a plea bargaining deal with the court confessing to participating in the killing in central Bosnia that ocurred on Aug. 21, 1992 and pledging to testify in future proceedings.

"Ivankovic was found guilty of taking part in the execution on Mount Vlasic of more than 200 civilians who had been taken off the buses that transported them from a Prijedor area detention camp to the central town of Travnik," the court said.

The mass killing was part of the ethnic cleansing that occurred when rebel Bosnian Serb forces clashed with Croats and Muslims during the break-up of the former Yugoslavia.

The victims, all men, were told they were being released in a prisoner exchange and were driven from the Trnopolje detention camp to some woods in central Bosnia. There, the prisoners were forced to kneel by the edge of a ravine and shot. A dozen survived by tumbling or jumping down the cliff.

Former Bosnian Serb policeman Darko Mrdja, who confessed to taking part in the Mount Vlasic massacre, was jailed for 17 years in 2004 by the Hague-based International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY).

Bosnia’s war crimes court was set up in 2005 to allow the ICTY to focus on the most serious cases from the conflict in which around 100,000 people were killed. It is currently trying seven other Bosnian Serbs for the Mount Vlasic massacre. (Reporting by Maja Zuvela; Editing by Louise Ireland)

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