Life for Bosnian Serbs over genocide at Srebrenica

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A UN tribunal has convicted two Bosnian Serbs for committing genocide in the 1995 Srebrenica massacre and sentenced them to life in prison.

Vujadin Popovic, 53, and Ljubisa Beara, 70, were among seven former high-ranking military and police officials to be sentenced.

The court jailed five other defendants for between five and 35 years.

The case is the largest yet at the tribunal, set up to deal with war crimes in the Balkans during the 1990s.

Up to 8,000 Bosniaks (Bosnian Muslims) were killed in one week in July 1995 around the town of Srebrenica, where a UN safe haven had been declared two years earlier.

It was the worst massacre of the Bosnian war.

If the judgements against Popovic and Beara are upheld, they will be the first suspects to be definitively convicted for committing genocide by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY).

'Personal view'

Both men, chiefs of security in parts of the Bosnian Serb army, were found guilty of genocide, extermination, murder and persecution.

Another chief of security, Drago Nikolic, was found guilty of aiding and abetting genocide, and sentenced to a prison term of 35 years.

The court said Popovic's "robust participation" in the plan for the massacre "demonstrates that he not only knew of this intent to destroy, he also shared it".

It described Beara as the "driving force behind the murder enterprise".

"Beara had a very personal view of the staggering number of victims destined for execution," the ruling said.

It referred to the fact that both Popovic and Beara were acting under orders from Gen Ratko Mladic, who is still at large.

The judgement said that "a widespread and systematic attack against a civilian population" that culminated with the Srebrenica massacre had begun on orders from former Bosnian Serb President Radovan Karadzic.

He is also on trial at the tribunal, which is located in the Dutch city of The Hague.

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