A woman touches the coffin of her relative among the over six-hundred displayed at the Potocari memorial cemetery near Srebrenica Marko Drobnjakovic/AP/Press Association Images

Bosnian court jails elite soldiers over Srebrenica killings

Four former soldiers have been convicted of crimes against humanity for their part in the 1995 Srebrenica massacre, in which 8,000 Muslim men and boys were killed.

A BOSNIAN COURT today convicted four former elite soldiers of crimes against humanity for their part in the 1995 Srebrenica massacre and handed down sentences of up to 43 years.

The men, three Bosnian Serbs and a Slovene, were members of an elite Bosnian Serb unit, the 10th Sabotage Detachment, which took part in the notorious July 16 killings over more than five hours at the Branjevo military farm.

The four men were convicted for their part in the killings of some 800 Bosnian Muslims, men and boys, just some of the 8,000 people killed in the Srebrenica massacre.

“The panel of judges has established that the accused committed a crime against humanity,” judge Mira Smajlovic said.

But they were all acquitted on genocide charges as the court ruled it had not been proven that they had the “genocidal intent” required for such a conviction, the judge added.

Bosnian Serb Stanko Kojic was sentenced to 43 years in prison; Slovenian Franc Kos and Bosnian Serb Zoran Goronja both got 40 years; and Vlastimir Golijan received a 19-year prison sentence.

During the trial Kos, one of the commanders of the unit, admitted to having taken part in the massacre, describing how the detainees had been brought to the execution site in buses.

‘We killed them by shooting them in the back’

“They were heading calmly towards the execution site and lined up,” he told the court.

“We killed them by shooting them in the back,” he added. He estimated that his platoon had executed some 300 people, before being replaced by other soldiers.

The 10th Sabotage Detachment, which also included non-Serb mercenaries, was founded by former Bosnian Serb army chief Ratko Mladic.

Mladic is currently on trial for genocide at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague.

After capturing the then UN-protected enclave on July 11, 1995, Bosnian Serbs summarily executed around 8,000 Muslim men and boys in just a few days.

It was the worst such atrocity in Europe since World War II and was ruled genocide by both the ICTY and the UN’s top court, the International Court of Justice.

Explainer: what happened in Srebrenica?

- © AFP, 2012

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