Bosnian Serb general found guilty of genocide, sentenced to life

Survivors of the 1995 Srebrenica massacre hold photographs of male relatives who were killed in Europe's worst atrocity since World War II. The women staged their demonstration against Bosnian Serb commander Zdravko Tolimir in the northern Bosnian town of Tuzla on Tuesday, a day before the Yugoslav war crimes tribunal convicted him of genocide.
(Amel Emric / Associated Press)

A Bosnian Serb general was convicted of genocide and other war crimes Wednesday by a United Nations tribunal in the Netherlands for his role in plotting and carrying out the murder of thousands of Muslim men in Eastern Bosnia in 1995.

Zdravko Tolimir, intelligence chief and deputy to wartime Bosnian Serb commander Ratko Mladic, was found guilty of murder, persecution, deportation and genocide by a 2-1 judgment of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.


Tolimir, 64, was a key architect of the criminal conspiracies to eradicate Muslims from Bosnian territory coveted by Serbs, including the killing of at least 6,000 Muslim men from the purportedly U.N.-protected enclave of Srebrenica in 1995.

“The harm inflicted upon these men rises to the level of serious bodily and mental harm and constitute acts of genocide,” Presiding Judge Christoph Fluegge of Germany said in reading the judgment in The Hague. The trial, which ran for more than two years, established that the systematic killings at Srebrenica and Zepa and deportation of tens of thousands of civilians from Eastern Bosnia during the 1992-95 conflict “was carried out to ensure that the Bosnian Muslim population of this enclave would not be able to reconstitute itself.”

Before the verdict was read, Tolimir stood and crossed himself three times in the Serbian Orthodox ritual supplication, and expressed his “wish for these proceedings to be concluded in accordance with God’s will,” the Associated Press reported from the courtroom.

Tolimir was indicted by the tribunal in 2005 and arrested and brought to The Hague two years later.

Mladic and former Bosnian Serb political leader Radovan Karadzic eluded capture for more than 15 years after their indictments but both are now in custody and on trial on charges that they were masterminds of the “ethnic cleansing” of Bosnia that displaced 2 million and left at least 100,000 dead.

Judge Prisca Matimba Nyambe of Zambia dissented from the majority judgment, contending the evidence against Tolimir was “entirely circumstantial” and based on his association with the leading perpetrators of war crimes in Bosnia, Mladic and Karadzic.

Over the last 19 years, the Yugoslav war tribunal has adjudicated 130 of the 161 indictments issued by the court. The remaining 31, including the cases against Mladic and Karadzic, are expected to be concluded within the next year or two.


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