The Sarajevo county court on Friday sentenced Milorad Rodic for crimes against the civilian population, forceful expulsion, and rape committed in the first two years of the Bosnian war, spokesman for the prosecution Oleg Cavka said.

  

The crimes were committed in the Sarajevo suburb of Grbavica which was controlled by Bosnian Serb forces throughout the war.  

Rodic was given a reduced sentence after pleading guilty under an agreement with the prosecution.

 

Bosnia's 1992-95 war claimed more than 200,000 lives, while more than two million people, over half the Balkan country's population, were forced to flee their homes.

 

Warning

  

Meanwhile, in Belgrade, the president of Serbia and Montenegro on Friday warned that failure to cooperate with the UN war crimes tribunal in The Hague would push the country into isolation and stagnation.

 

"I'm an optimist and I think that Karadzic and Mladic are thinking about voluntary surrender"

Carla del Ponte,
chief war crimes prosecutor

Pro-Western President Svetozar Marovic was speaking two days after a senior US official told Serbia it must hand over suspects such as top fugitive general Ratko Mladic and wanted Serbs if the impoverished Balkan republic is to build closer ties with the West.

   

"We in Serbia and Montenegro are certain that any delay in fulfilling our commitments to The Hague is pushing us further away from Europe," Marovic told reporters.

   

Foreign Minister Vuk Draskovic also advocates full cooperation.

 

But Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica, a Hague critic, has said the generals should not be extradited and suggested they face trial in Serbia instead.

 

Whereabouts

   

Authorities say they don't know Mladic's whereabouts, rejecting allegations by chief UN war crimes prosecutor Carla del Ponte that he is hiding in Serbia.

   

Mladic and his former political master Radovan Karadzic are wanted for genocide during Bosnia's 1992-95 war.

   

Mladic's arrest and handover would be possible if there was political will in Belgrade, del Ponte was quoted as saying.

   

"I'm an optimist and I think that Karadzic and Mladic are thinking about voluntary surrender," she also told state news agency Tanjug in an interview published on Friday.