The tribunal on Wednesday, however, acquitted Brdjanin of genocide charges related to ethnic cleansing in the Krajina region of northwestern Bosnia during the country's 1992-95 civil war.

Brdjanin's acquittal on genocide charges brought howls of protest from Bosnian Muslims and Croats.

"We have found 110 mass graves there. If that is not proof of genocide what is," said Jasmin Odobasic, a member of Bosnia's Muslim-Croat commission for missing people.

Atrocities

Tens of thousands of Muslims and Croats were driven out of the Krajina region during the war, which cost more than 200,000 lives and saw some of the worst atrocities in Europe since World War II.

Brdjanin was a senior Serb official in the Krajina region during the conflict.

"I am outraged. This sentence is encouragement for other mass murderers and all those who tortured us and are now living among us and laugh at us," said a local resident Muharem Murselovic.

"I am disappointed. I went through hell in Kljuc and I don't think the court has made the right decision," said Matilda Sulentic, a Croat, referring to a Krajina town where civilians were tortured and killed.