UN war crimes court jails ex-Yugoslav army chief
A UN court Tuesday sentenced ex-Yugoslav army chief Momcilo Perisic to 27 years in jail for war crimes and crimes against humanity, including for his role in the 1995 Srebrenica massacre.
"For these crimes the chamber by majority sentences you to a single term of 27 years in prison," Judge Bakone Moloto told Perisic, the highest ranking member of the former Yugoslav army, in a hearing before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in the Hague (ICTY).
Chief of the Yugoslav army's general staff between 1993 and 1998, Perisic gave personnel, officers, weapons and logistical support to the Bosnian Serb army as well as the self-proclaimed republic of Krajina's army, knowing it would be used to wage war and commit crimes against Muslim civilians, the judge said.
Judges found Perisic, 67, guilty of 12 of the 13 charges levelled against him, including for his role in the 1992-95 siege of Bosnian capital Sarajevo, the shelling of Zagreb by Croation Serbs in May 1995 -- and the Srebrenica massacre in July 1995.
Bosnian Serb forces murdered some 8,000 Muslim men and boys at Srebrenica in Europe's worst atrocity since World War II.
Moloto, clearing Perisic on a count of extermination at Srebrenica, said the former general "could not have foreseen" that the Bosnian Serb army (VRS) would exterminate Muslims after the UN-protected enclave fell. Yet after learning of the massacre he still provided support for the Serb troops.
"You kept providing assistance to the VRS for months after being informed of the VRS's enormous massacre in Srebrenica," the judge said.
Prosecutors in March asked for life imprisonment against Perisic, a close collaborator of late Serbian strongman Slobodan Milosevic who died in his Hague detention cell in 2006.
Perisic is the only senior Yugoslav official to be sentenced before the ICTY for the Srebrenica massacre after Milosevic, also implicated in the mass kilings, died mid-trial.
The 18 other defendants for their role at Srebrenica are mainly Bosnian Serbs including the ICTY's most-wanted man until arrested in May, former Bosnian army chief Ratko Mladic.
Some of Perisic's former subordinates have already been tried before the ICTY including former VRS general Stanislav Galic, sentenced on appeal to life in prison in November 2006 for conducting a campaign of "terror against the civilian population" during the siege of Sarajevo.
© 2011 AFP