Bosnian Serb official convicted of war crimes dies of COVID-19

Momcilo Krajisnik was sentenced to 20 years for persecuting and expelling non-Serbs during the Bosnian war.

Momcilo Krajisnik
Krajisnik was released from a UK prison in 2013 after serving two-thirds of his sentence [File: Bas Czerwinski/Pool/Reuters]

Momcilo Krajisnik, a former Bosnian Serb official who was convicted of war crimes by a United Nations court, has died after contracting the new coronavirus.

The hospital in the northern Bosnian town of Banja Luka said that Krajisnik died early on Tuesday “from consequences of infection with the new coronavirus”.

Bosnia has more than 23,635 COVID-19 cases and 705 deaths to date, according to Johns Hopkins University.

The 75-year-old was taken to hospital in late August as his health deteriorated.

Krajisnik was convicted and sentenced to 20 years in prison by the UN’s Yugoslav war crimes tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands, for persecuting and forcibly expelling non-Serbs during the 1992-95 war.

He was released from a British prison in 2013 after serving two-thirds of the sentence.

Krajisnik served as the Bosnian Serb parliament speaker during the conflict that erupted after the breakup of the Yugoslav federation in the 1990s.

A close aide to Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, who was convicted by The Hague tribunal for genocide, he was among the leadership that led efforts to create a Serb self-styled state in parts of Bosnia and unite it with neighbouring Serbia. 

Bosnian Serb forces took control of about one-third of the Bosnian territory, expelling Muslims and Croats from their homes and brutally killing thousands.

About 100,000 people were killed and 2.2 million others displaced in the Bosnian war, which erupted as communal rivalries tore Yugoslavia apart after the fall of communism, until a US-brokered peace agreement ended the conflict.

Many Serbs consider Krajisnik and other Bosnian Serb wartime officials as heroes despite the UN war crimes convictions against them.

Upon his release, Krajisnik received a hero’s welcome from thousands of Serbs upon returning to the Bosnian Serb wartime stronghold of Pale.

Krajisnik is survived by two sons and a daughter.

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Source: News Agencies