AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Judges in The Hague on Wednesday sentenced two former Bosnian Serb police officers to 22 years’ jail for their role in war crimes and crimes against humanity during the break-up of Yugoslavia more than 20 years ago.
They ruled Mico Stanisic and Stojan Zupljanin contributed to a plan to permanently remove non-Serbs from the territory of a planned Serb state in parts of multi-ethnic Bosnia by committing acts of violence against Muslims and ethnic Croats.
Some of their crimes were committed when Serb forces took over the municipality of Prijedor in 1992, which led to the deaths of more than 1,000 people, the judges at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia said.
Many inhabitants were taken to improvised detention camps, including a particularly notorious one at Omarska, where detainees were raped and killed. Others were held in “deplorably inhumane” conditions.
“Over 100 persons were executed in room three at Keraterm camp in one night around July 25 by Serb guards,” according to a summary of the judgment read out by Burton Hall, presiding judge.
“At Omarska camp ... mass executions were held from late July onwards.”
More than 100,000 people were killed during the war in Bosnia, the bloodiest of the conflicts that followed the collapse of Yugoslavia in the 1990s.
The two men, who pleaded not guilty to all charges at the beginning of the trial in 2009, sat impassively through the judgment. Zapljanin made the sign of the cross when he heard his sentence.
“I think the sentences are too mild and too short, if you look at Prijedor alone, not to mention other municipalities,” said Mirsad Duratovic, the president of the association of camp inmates in the northwestern town of Prijedor, known for detention camps for non-Serbs.
Duratovic said that 3,173 non-Serbs had been killed in the Prijedor area and over 1,000 were still missing.
Lawyers for Stanisic and Zupljanin were not immediately available to say whether their clients would appeal.
Reporting by Thomas Escritt; Additional reporting by Daria Sito-Sucic in Sarajevo; Editing by Jason Webb