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Serb general guilty of genocide

Krstic
Krstic is the highest-ranking Bosnian Serb military officer tried by the U.N. court  


THE HAGUE, Netherlands (CNN) -- A former Bosnian Serb general has been found guilty of genocide for his role in the massacre of about 8,000 Muslims in Srebrenica in 1995.

The U.N. war crimes tribunal sentenced Radislav Krstic to 46 years after finding him guilty on eight counts -- two of genocide, five of crimes against humanity and one of violations of the laws or customs of war.

The landmark judgment is the first time that the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia has found a defendant guilty of genocide.

The ruling means the massacre has been recognised as the first genocide in Europe since the persecution of Jews during World War II.

The verdict was ''an incredibly dramatic moment for international justice,'' said Christiane Amanpour, CNN's chief international correspondent.

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War Crimes Tribunal: Has justice been done?  
 
 IN-DEPTH
graphicSrebrenica: Five days of evil

  • Survivor's Story
  • Gallery
  • Massacre background
  • Rebuilding Srebrenica
  • Prayers for the dead
  • Grief of the widows
  • Mass grave found
  • War crimes defendants
  • Profile: Radko Mladic
  • Profile: Radovan Karadzic

 
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CNN's Christiane Amanpour: "Dramatic moment for international justice"
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Krstic's lawyer said afterwards he would appeal against both the verdict and the sentence.

In his judgement, Presiding Judge Almiro Rodrigues said Krstic probably did not make the decision to kill all the men of fighting age at Srebrenica, a U.N.-designated ''safe area.''

But it found him "guilty of the murder of thousands of Muslims" and said he was responsible for the incredible suffering of the Bosnian Muslims of Srebrenica.

The judge said because Krstic went along with the decision to kill all the men of fighting age in the enclave, he was guilty of genocide. "Individually in 1995 you agreed to evil," he said.

The prosecution argued that Krstic, who denied all charges, led a week-long campaign that left thousands of men and boys dead or missing. The trial lasted 94 days and heard from 128 witnesses.

Krstic, the highest-ranking Bosnian Serb military officer tried by the U.N. court, said he knew of the mass killings, but was unable to stop them.

In July 1995, Serb forces attacked the "safe haven" where about 30,000 Muslims had sought refuge from the Serb onslaught at a Dutch-manned U.N. base.

Women and children were separated from the males, who were loaded onto buses and taken to collection stations throughout the region.

Srebrenica massacre
A shirt recovered from a mass grave of victims of the Srebrenica massacre  

Dozens of survivors testified about what became known as the killing fields of Srebrenica.

Several told how they lay in a field of bleeding corpses for hours as Serb soldiers discharged round after round of automatic weapon fire into columns of prisoners. Many of the victims were decapitated, and others were shot in a string of mass killings, the tribunal found.

Krstic told the court that his immediate superior, Gen. Ratko Mladic, took control of the forces that overran the enclave just days before the killings. Krstic said he kept quiet for fear that Mladic would harm his family.

But prosecutors argued that Krstic jointly masterminded the genocide plan with Mladic and Radovan Karadzic, then the Bosnian Serb political leader.

Both Mladic and Karadzic have been indicted but remain at large.

Exhumations of mass graves conducted by investigators in Bosnia -- some as recent as last month -- have revealed the bodies of about 4,500 bodies. Only 15 percent of those identified.

The Yugoslav court was established in 1993 to punish those responsible for atrocities during the break up of Yugoslavia after the start of war in 1991.

Krstic's trial was delayed frequently because of health problems related to the amputation of a leg during the war.






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