UN court orders life jail terms over Bosnia massacre

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A UN war crimes court on Thursday sentenced two Bosnian Serbs to life in jail for genocide over their role in the Srebrenica massacre of more than 7,000 Muslim men and boys in July 1995.

Vujadin Popovic, 53, and Ljubisa Beara, 70, were both officers in the Bosnian Serb army blamed for the massacre during the 1992-95 war. They were jailed by the International Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.

The "only appropriate sentence... is life imprisonment," judge Carmel Agius told Popovic and Beara.

Beara was described by the court as the "driving force behind the murder enterprise," while Popovic's "robust participation" in the massacre demonstrated "he not only knew of this intent to destroy, he also shared it."

Four other officers and a police official found guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity were jailed for between five and 35 years.

It is the largest trial conducted at the ICTY to date, with 315 people testifying in court proceedings that began in August 2006.

Bosnian Serb wartime political leader Radovan Karadzic, 64, is currently on trial on 11 counts of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide charges including the Srebrenica massacre. He was arrested in July 2008 after 13 years on the run.

In recent months, Serbia has stepped up its efforts to arrest the Bosnian Serb wartime military commander Ratko Mladic, accused by the ICTY of masterminding the 44-month siege of Sarajevo and the Srebrenica massacre.

© 2010 AFP

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