|"Momcilo Perisic, former chief of staff of the Yugoslav army, under guard before hearing his sentence at The Hague." (Peter Dejong/Reuters)|
Associated Press dispatch in The Guardian, September 6, 2011
"The Yugoslav war crimes tribunal has sentenced the former chief of the Yugoslav army to 27 years in prison for providing military aid to Bosnian Serb forces responsible for the Srebrenica massacre and for a deadly four-year campaign of shelling and sniping in Sarajevo. The verdict on General Momcilo Perisic is the first time the United Nations court has convicted a civilian or military officer from Yugoslavia of war crimes in Bosnia, and underscores the Yugoslav army's support for the Serb rebels in Bosnia and Croatia who committed the worst atrocities of the Balkan conflicts in the 1990s. The link between the disintegrating Yugoslav federation and Serb forces in the breakaway republics has been a matter of dispute and was the keystone of the trial in The Hague of Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic. That trial ended without a conclusion when Milosevic died in his cell in 2006 of a heart attack. The former Yugoslavia is now divided into independent states that include Serbia, Bosnia and Croatia. Perisic is a former Milosevic ally who remained Serbia's military chief until 2008 -- three years after the Bosnian and Croatian wars ended. He turned against the dictator after the Bosnian war and warned Milosevic's regime against fomenting conflict in Kosovo, where fighting erupted after he left his post.
The UN judges convicted Perisic of charges of providing officers, troops, ammunition and logistical support to the rebel Serbs in Bosnia and Croatia, but acquitted him of allegations that he was directly responsible as a superior officer to the Bosnian Serbs commanded by General Ratko Mladic. Presiding judge Bakone Moloto said evidence reflected Perisic's 'inability to impose binding orders on General Mladic ... who maintained a measure of independence throughout the war'. Mladic was caught and transferred to The Hague for trial in May, after 16 years as one of the tribunal's most wanted fugitives. He faces genocide charges for allegedly masterminding ethnic cleansing campaigns and the massacre in 2005 of 8,000 Muslim men in the UN-protected Srebrenica enclave, Europe's worst massacre since the second world war. [...]"