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Two Bosnian Serbs jailed for 31 years over Srebrenica

SARAJEVO (Reuters) - Bosnia’s war crimes court on Thursday jailed two Serb ex-policemen for 31 years each on a charge of aiding in genocide and taking part in the killing of more than 7,000 Muslims in the town of Srebrenica in 1995.

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“Radomir Vukovic, 36, and Zoran Tomic, 38, were members of the 2nd Sekovici Special Police Detachment which intended to partly exterminate a group of Muslims and help remove forcibly 40,000 civilians from the eastern enclave,” Judge Senadin Bektasevic said.

He said the two participated in the capture and execution of at least 1,000 Muslim men who tried to escape Srebrenica through the woods and were detained in a warehouse in the nearby village of Kravice.

“Vukovic and Tomic were among the interior ministry members who rounded up and guarded the Kravice warehouse on July 13, 1995 and later opened a fire through the windows at the captives ... at the same time Vukovic was throwing hand grenades at them,” Bektasevic said.

The panel of judges could not determine the exact number of men killed in the warehouse, he said, adding that up to 1,000 men were executed that day according to witness testimony.

Bektasevic said the bodies were buried in mass graves that were dug earlier but later moved elsewhere to hide the atrocity.

The two men were also found guilty of guarding a convoy of Muslim women, children and elderly who were separated from their male family members and taken out of Srebrenica, he said.

Bosnian Serb forces, commanded by now-fugitive General Ratko Mladic, killed about 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys after the U.N.-protected “safe area” zone fell into their hands near the end of Bosnia’s 1992-95 war.

Most were killed while trying to escape through the woods, or arrested and then taken to places of execution before burial in mass graves.

The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in The Hague has sentenced seven Bosnian Serbs and is trying nine more for Europe’s worst atrocity since World War Two.

Bosnia’s war crimes court, set up in 2005 to relieve the burden on the Hague-based court, has put dozens of Bosnian Serbs on trial over Srebrenica.

Twelve, including Vukovic and Tomic, have been jailed, seven acquitted and seven are still being tried.

Mladic is still on the run 14 years after he was indicted. Bosnian Serb wartime leader Radovan Karadzic, who is on trial in The Hague, denies 11 counts of war crimes relating to the Bosnian war, including genocide at Srebrenica.

Editing by Adam Tanner, Sonya Hepinstall and Mark Heinrich