Prosecutors demand life term for ex-Yugoslav commander

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Prosecutors at a UN tribunal demanded life in prison Tuesday for ex-Yugoslav army chief Momcilo Perisic, on trial for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

"It is our request that your honours convict General Perisic for all counts in the indictment and that you impose a sentence of life for the commission of those offences," prosecutor Mark Harmon told judges at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia sitting in The Hague.

Perisic, 66, pleaded not guilty to 13 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed when he was chief of the general staff of the Yugoslav Army from August 1993 to November 1998.

The charges include murder, persecution on political, racial or religious grounds, extermination, inhumane acts and attacks on civilians.

Many of the charges stem from the 44-month siege of the Bosnian capital Sarajevo, in which thousands of civilians died, and the 1995 Srebrenica massacre of some 8,000 Muslim men and boys.

He also stands accused over cluster bomb attacks on the Croatian capital Zagreb in May 1995 in which seven civilians died and at least 194 were injured.

Perisic made soldiers of the Yugoslav army available to Serb forces in Bosnia for the siege of Sarajevo, as well as to the self-proclaimed Croatian Serb enclave of Krajina, the indictment says.

Bosnian Serb soldiers held the Sarajevo population under siege from August 1993 to November 1995, using mortar bombs and sniping at people at markets at tram stops.

Some 10,000 people died, including about 1,500 children, according to the Helsinki committee for human rights in Bosnia.

Perisic, army chief during the rule of former president Slobodan Milosevic, voluntarily surrendered to the court in March 2005, less than a month after he was indicted.

© 2011 AFP

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