War crimes court orders Serb major's early release

7th July 2011, Comments 0 comments

The UN war crimes court on the former Yugoslavia on Thursday ordered the early release of a former Serbian major sentenced over the 1991 Vukovar massacre.

Former Serbian military officer Veselin Sljivancanin, 58, was sentenced to a decade in jail over the murder of prisoners of war in Croatia.

"I am of the view that the amount of time Mr Sljivancanin has served militates in favour of his early release," said Judge Patrick Robinson, president of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, in a court order.

Since he was arrested in 2003, he spent 2,434 days in detention in Belgrade and in the ICTY's detention unit in The Hague, or two-thirds of his sentence, Robinson said.

He "always showed respect for the management and staff of the unit", and complied with the instructions of detention officers.

Sljivancanin maintained good relations with a "wide group" of fellow inmates and helped revamp the prison's library, Robinson said, quoting a report by the unit's deputy commanding officer.

The former officer expressed remorse over the "terrible events which not only happened in Vukovar, but all over the territory of the former Yugoslavia," Robinson stressed.

Sljivancanin was sentenced on May 5, 2009, to 17 years in prison for aiding and abetting the murder of 194 prisoners taken from Vukovar's hospital in November 1991.

The sentence was later reduced to 10 years following a new witness statement.

© 2011 AFP

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