ZVORNIK GENOCIDE: 2 SERBS GUILTY FOR 700 DEATHS
CAPTION: A Bosnian worker, a member of the International Commission for Missing Persons (ICMP) inspects and marks body remains at a mass-grave site in the remote mountain area in the village of Kamenica near the Eastern-Bosnian town of Zvornik, near Srebrenica, on Nov. 6, 2008. Kamenica mass graves are secondary mass-graves.In May and June of 1992, some 38 months before the Srebrenica massacre, notorious Serb forces led by Gen. Ratko Mladic were busy raping Bosnian Muslim women, slaughtering Bosniak civilians, and torching Muslim villages. In the municipality of Zvornik, they slaughtered 700 Muslims - women, children, sick, wounded, and the elderly civilians - in less than 2 months. The Zvornik Genocide is part of former Bosnian Serb leaders indictment (his reduced indictment aims to speed up the trial). Radovan Karadzic is currently standing trial at the Hague.
Serbia on Monday sentenced two Serbs to 15 and 6 years each in prison for the wartime torture and killing of 700 Bosniaks in eastern Bosnia. Former local officials Branko Popovic and Branko Grujic were convicted in the deaths of civilians near the town of Zvornik in 1992.
Crimes against Bosnian Muslims in the area bordering Serbia are considered among the most brutal of the 1992-1995 Bosnia war. Serb troops, including notorious paramilitary fighters, rounded up Bosnian Muslim civilians, tortured them, then killed or expelled most in a spasm of ethnic cleansing.
The War Crimes Prosecutor's Office said it would appeal Monday's verdicts, calling the sentences "inadequate considering the responsibility of the accused, with regard to the number of victims, the mass and brutal character of the crimes."
An association of the victims' families also criticized the verdicts.
"I am speechless, in shock," Hakija Smajlovic, the group's representative told Belgrade-based B92 TV. "I could not believe that such light sentences can be handed for the killing of 700 people."
Bosnian Muslim prisoners were held in inhumane conditions, with some suffocating to death, the court said, adding the two men were guilty of aiding in the killings and doing nothing to prevent them.
It noted the two were indicted for "premeditated and synchronized" acts that also resulted in rounding up 1,642 Bosniak civilians who were either killed or forced to leave their homes.
The two were arrested in 2005, which means that Grujic has less than a year left to serve in prison. The trial is part of Serbia's efforts to deal with its wartime past as it seeks to join the European Union.