Serb given life sentence for Srebrenica killings

Thu, Dec 13, 2012, 00:00

Former Bosnian Serb general Zdravko Tolimir has been sentenced to life in prison for his key role in the massacre of thousands of Muslim men and boys at Srebrenica in 1995.

The United Nations court in The Hague ruled that Tolimir had taken part in “joint criminal enterprises” to murder the men of Srebrenica and to drive out the Bosnian Muslim population of Srebrenica and another UN “safe haven” called Zepa.

A majority of judges found that the “combined effect of the forcible removal and murder operation had a devastating effect on the physical survival of the Bosnian Muslim population of eastern Bosnia and Herzegovina and is satisfied that these operations were aimed at destroying this population”.

The court found that at least 6,000 men from Srebrenica had been killed by Bosnian Serb forces, and that “the suffering these men went through in the moments leading up to their deaths must have been unbearable.

“On many occasions, those who were waiting to be shot saw others before them executed.”

Presiding judge Christoph Flugge said Tolimir (64) “had full knowledge of the despicable criminal operations and himself furthered their goals”, calling the crimes that he helped plan and carry out “massive in scale, severe in their intensity and devastating in their effect”.

Tolimir was the intelligence chief of the Bosnian Serb army, and judges called him the “right-hand man and eyes and ears of Ratko Mladic”, who led those forces during a 1992-95 war that killed some 100,000 people.

Radovan Karadzic was the Bosnian Serb political leader during the war, and he and Mladic are now also on trial at The Hague for war crimes and genocide. Like Tolimir, they deny the allegations.

Sabaheta Fejzic, whose husband and son were killed at Srebrenica, said the verdict “can appease my soul after everything I survived in July 1995”.

“If there was a death penalty, Tolimir would deserve it. But since it does not exist, then he should rot in jail for the rest of his life.”