Friday, June 11, 2010
Srebrenica Massacre / International Tribunals
Officers Guilty of 1995 Massacre in Srebrenica
By Vesna Peric Zimonjic
The Independent, June 11, 2010
Photo: "Guilty: Vujadin Popovic and Ljubisa Beara in court" (EPA).
"Two high-ranking military enforcers of ethnic cleansing for the wartime Bosnian Serb leadership were yesterday convicted of genocide for the 1995 murders of almost 8,000 men and boys after their troops overran the safe enclave of Srebrenica. The men were jailed for life, the most severe sentences ever handed down by the international war crimes tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, for a massacre considered the worst act of violence in Europe since the Second World War. Vujadin Popovic and Ljubisa Beara were key lieutenants of the fugitive head of the Bosnian Serb army, General Ratko Mladic and are the only people with convictions for genocide for atrocities committed during the 1992-1995 Bosnian War.
During an orgy of violence, soldiers drove more than 25,000 Bosnians from their homes and thousands were executed as Dutch peacekeepers failed to stop the killings in one of the UN's most shameful episodes. After being held in detention centres and halls, many of the men were taken to execution sites and gunned down. Others were massacred on the spot. The judges ruled that Popovic, a lieutenant colonel, organised and watched the execution of prisoners at a school. '(He) knew that the intent was not just to kill those who had fallen into the hands of Bosnian Serb forces, but to kill as many as possible,' the judgment said. Beara, a colonel, co-ordinated the murder of Muslim prisoners and organised their mass burials, the judgment said. Beara had a 'very personal view of the staggering number of victims destined for execution,' it said. He 'was intent on destroying a group by killing all the members of it within his reach.' Five other Bosnian Serb officials were jailed for five to 35 years for their part in the Srebrenica massacre, which happened a few months before the war ended with the Dayton Peace Accords. As the judges delivered their ruling, some of the men shook their heads in disbelief. The Hague-based trial of the seven, which began in July 2006, was one of the longest in the tribunal's history, with 315 witnesses taking the stand. [...]"