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War crimes court convicts Bosnian Serbs

Two former Bosnian Serb officials sentenced to 22 years in jail for their role during Balkan country's 1992-95 war.

Last Modified: 27 Mar 2013 18:58
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Zupljanin (left) and Stanisic (right) were charged for conspiring with former leader Radovan Karadzic [Reuters]

The Yugoslav war crimes tribunal has sentenced two former Bosnian Serb officials to 22 years in prison, each, for their roles in a campaign against Muslims, Croats and non-Serbs in Bosnia during the Balkan country's 1992-95 war.

Mico Stanisic, the former interior minister, and his subordinate Stojan Zupljanin, a former senior security official in charge of police, were convicted on Wednesday at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY).

Stanisic, 58, and Zupljanin, 61, faced war crimes and crimes against humanity charges including murder, torture and cruel treatment of non-Serbs in municipalities and detention centres during Bosnia's war which left 100,000 people dead and about 2.2 million homeless.

"Both [men] intended and significantly contributed to the plan of removing Muslims and Croats from the territory of the planned Serbian state"

- Burton Hall, ICTY Judge

"The chamber finds that the goal of these actions was the establishment of a Serb state as ethnically pure as possible," Judge Burton Hall said.

"Through these acts and omissions both intended and significantly contributed to the plan of removing Muslims and Croats from the territory of the planned Serbian state," the judge said.

Zupljanin later became an advisor to former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, who is himself facing charges of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide before the ICTY.

Prosecutors charged the two men with involvement in a criminal conspiracy with Karadzic and his military chief Ratko Mladic.

One of the lawyers representing the two men told Al Jazeera's Katarina Drlja that they plan to appeal, after looking into the details of the ruling.

"This appeal will also be processed in the ICTY," said Drlja reporting from The Hague. 

"Only the appeals that will be put in after July 1st will be taken from the new residual mechanism, which will take over all the procedures once the tribunal ends its mandate," she added. 

Stanisic turned himself in, in March 2005 and was released afterwards to move around freely until being summoned to stand trial.

Zupljanin, a former police chief in the Krajina region of northwestern Bosnia who was arrested in 2008 after more than nine years on the run, has remained in custody after being judged a flight risk.

The tribunal has indicted 161 people, mostly Serbs, for their role in the former Yugoslavia. Only six trials remain to be completed.

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