October 30, 2009 / 4:14 PM / 9 years ago

Bosnian Serb commander convicted of war crimes

SARAJEVO (Reuters) - Former Serb army commander Predrag Kujundzic was convicted of crimes against humanity — including murder and rape — by Bosnia’s war crimes court on Friday and sentenced to 22 years in jail.

Judge Saban Maksumic said the court found Kujundzic, 48, guilty of “committing and coercing sexual slavery, rape, severe deprivation of physical liberty, persecution of non-Serb civilians and other inhumane acts.”

Kujundzic was the commander of the Bosnian Serb Army unit known as Predini Vukovi (Predo’s Wolves) that operated around the northern town of Doboj during the country’s 1992-95 war.

“Commanding over the Predo’s Wolves unit, he participated in inhumane treatment of 50 Bosniak (Bosnian Muslim) and Croat civilians who were unlawfully detained and used as human shields during combat operations and 17 were killed,” the judge said.

Maksumic said Kujundzic went to the house of a woman in June 1992, armed and accompanied by five members of his unit. He raped the woman’s under-age daughter and incited other soldiers to rape the mother.

“After Kujundzic raped the minor female, he told her that as of that day she would comply with all that he requested from her or otherwise he would kill her mother and younger sister,” the judge said.

Kujundzic ordered the girl to wear a chain with a cross pendant and a Serb army camouflage uniform. He made her wear a red beret and changed her Muslim name into a Serb name without consent of her parents, Maksumic said.

The judge acquitted Kujundzic of separate charges related to the inhumane treatment of prisoners of a detention camp.

The Bosnian war crimes court was set up in 2005 to relieve the burden on the United Nations war crimes tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and to try mid- and low-ranking cases from the Bosnian war that claimed an estimated 100,000 lives.

The trial of Bosnian Serb wartime leader Radovan Karadzic opened in The Hague this week, with prosecutors accusing him of leading a campaign of genocide against Bosnian Muslims during the 1992-95 Bosnian war.

Reporting by Maja Zuvela; Editing by Adam Tanner and Erik Kirschbaum

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