Bosnian Serb defiant as UN court upholds convictions

The UN's Yugoslav war crimes court on Tuesday upheld Bosnian Serb paramilitary leader Milan Lukic's life sentence for murdering Muslims during Bosnia's bloody 1992-95 war and ordered his cousin and co-accused to remain in jail although with a lesser sentence.

A defiant Lukic smiled at victims and their relatives in the public gallery and made the sign of the cross shortly after hearing his appeal had been turned down by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia's (ICTY) appeals chamber.

The two cousins were appealing their 2009 convictions at the ICTY for killing Muslims in ways the court had described as "the worst acts of inhumanity" and "callous and vicious".

"Are you Chetnik?" one of the women representing victims in the public gallery shouted at him after the verdict, referring to the name Serbian ultra-nationalist paramilitaries gave themselves during Bosnia's bloody 1992-95 war.

"I hope your children turn in their graves," shouted the woman who refused to give her name.

Milan Lukic smiled at her before shaking his lawyer's hand and being taken away by guards.

The appeals chamber "affirms Milan Lukic's sentence of life imprisonment (and) reduces Sredoje Lukic's sentence of 30 years imprisonment to a sentence of 27 years," judge Mehmet Guney told the Hague-based court.

Both men had asked the court to reverse their convictions, and the prosecution had also filed an appeal seeking an increase in Sredoje Lukic's sentence.

The verdicts are likely to anger Belgrade further, coming in the wake of acquittals on appeal of General Ante Gotovina, Croatia's highest-ranking army officer before the court and the acquittal of former Kosovo prime minister Ramush Haradinaj last month.

The acquittals were hailed in Croatia and Kosovo, but met with bitterness by Serbs, many of whom view the tribunal as biased against them.

A panel of judges in July 2009 found Milan Lukic, 45, guilty of killing at least 132 Muslims.

Among other crimes, ICTY judges said he helped burn alive at least 119 people who were locked up by paramilitary fighters in two different houses that were set on fire on different days in June 1992 around the town of Visegrad in eastern Bosnia.

The appeals chamber found that in one of those attacks, known as the Pionirska Street fire, 53 rather than 59 people had died.

The court also reversed Sredoje's conviction for beating detainees at the Uzamnica barracks that was being used as a detention centre, thus reducing his sentence by three years.

Milan Lukic dressed in a black suit, white shirt and black tie, sat emotionless until the judgement was read, chewing on a piece of gum and occasionally reading from what appeared to be a prayer book.

Sredoje Lukic, dressed in a black suit, light blue shirt and dark blue tie, peered nervously over his glasses and looked at the judge as he read the verdict.

"For me and all my folks from Visegrad, for all the victims, our families, this is a rebirth", Bakira Hasecic, who says she was raped in Visegrad, told journalists outside the court, raising her arms in the air as a sign of victory and a large smile across her face.

"Finally, the Hague tribunal has shown why it has been set up".

In Sarajevo, Esad Tufekcic, 51, whose wife and two children, aged one and four were burned alive, told AFP he was happy that Milan Lukic's sentence was upheld, but "I'm not glad Sredoje's sentence was reduced."

But he said no sentence, no matter how severe could serve justice for victims who died in the fire.

"They killed women and children who died in horrible pain, (who were) burned alive.... No sentence could really serve the justice," Tufekcic told AFP.

Judges in the initial trial had said the two burnings "exemplify the worst acts of inhumanity that a person may inflict upon others".

Milan Lukic was a founding member of a group known as the White Eagles or Avengers that worked with police and military units between 1992 and 1994 to terrorise Muslim communities. His cousin joined later.

Milan Lukic was transferred to The Hague in February 2006 from Argentina, where he was arrested in August 2005 after being on the run for more than five years.

Sredoje Lukic, who was hiding in Russia according to prosecutors, turned himself in to Bosnian Serb authorities in September 2005, and was then transferred to The Hague.

Both had been on a list of 10 most-wanted Serbs.

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • Lupita Nyong'o's $150,000 Oscars dress stolen from hotel
    Lupita Nyong'o's $150,000 Oscars dress stolen from hotel

    The $150,000 pearl-studded, custom-made Calvin Klein dress worn by Oscar-winning actress Lupita Nyong'o at this year's Academy Awards has been stolen, police said on Thursday. The gown, embellished with 6,000 natural white pearls, was stolen from Nyong'o's room at the London Hotel in West Hollywood, during the day on Wednesday, a spokesman for the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department in West Hollywood said. "Ms Nyong'o was not in the room at the time of the theft," Deputy John Mitchell …

  • South Korea decriminalises adultery, condom shares soar
    South Korea decriminalises adultery, condom shares soar

    South Korea's Constitutional Court on Thursday struck down a controversial adultery law which for more than 60 years had criminalised extra-marital sex and jailed violators for up to two years. The decision saw shares in the South Korean firm Unidus Corp., one of the world's largest condom manufacturers, soar by the daily limit of 15 percent on the local stock exchange. "Even if adultery should be condemned as immoral, state power should not intervene in individuals' private lives," said …

  • US-led strikes on IS after group seizes 220 Christians
    US-led strikes on IS after group seizes 220 Christians

    The US-led coalition has carried out air strikes against the Islamic State group in northeastern Syria, where the jihadists have launched a new offensive and kidnapped 220 Assyrian Christians. The raids on Thursday struck areas around the town of Tal Tamr in Hasakeh province, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, without giving information on possible casualties. The town remains under the control of Kurdish forces, but at least 10 surrounding villages have been seized by IS, along …

  • U.S. flies most advanced surveillance plane from Philippines

    By Manuel Mogato MANILA (Reuters) - The United States has begun flying its most advanced surveillance aircraft, the P-8A Poseidon, out of the Philippines for patrols over the South China Sea, the U.S. Navy said on Thursday, acknowledging the flights for the first time. The United States, the Philippines' oldest and closest ally, has promised to share "real time" information on what is happening in Philippine waters as China steps up its activities in the South China Sea. China claims most of …

  • Militants abduct more Christians, smash ancient artifacts
    Militants abduct more Christians, smash ancient artifacts

    BEIRUT (AP) — Islamic State militants seized more Christians from their homes in northeastern Syria in the past three days, bringing the total number abducted by the extremist group to over 220, activists said Thursday. …

  • National Geographic 'Afghan girl' in Pakistan papers probe
    National Geographic 'Afghan girl' in Pakistan papers probe

    Pakistani officials are investigating after the famous green-eyed "Afghan girl" immortalised in a 1985 National Geographic magazine cover was found living in the country on fraudulent identity papers. The haunting image of the then 12-year-old Sharbat Gula, taken in a refugee camp by photographer Steve McCurry, became the most famous cover image in the magazine's history. Now Pakistani officials say that Gula applied for a Pakistani identity card in the northwestern city of Peshawar in April …

  • IS executioner 'Jihadi John' named as London graduate
    IS executioner 'Jihadi John' named as London graduate

    "Jihadi John", the masked Islamic State group militant believed responsible for beheading of at least five Western hostages, has been named as Kuwaiti-born computing graduate Mohammed Emwazi from London. "Jihadi John", nicknamed after Beatle John Lennon due to his British accent, is believed to be responsible for the murders of US journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, British aid workers David Haines and Alan Henning and American aid worker Abdul-Rahman Kassig. …

  • ‘Noy angered by previous SAF failures to get Marwan’
    ‘Noy angered by previous SAF failures to get Marwan’

    Supt. Raymund Train, who led the SAF team that killed Marwan in Mamasapano, Maguindanao on Jan. 25, recounted in a sworn statement the meeting he and senior SAF officers had with Aquino in Malacañang on Nov. 30. Train said among the senior officers who attended the meeting were then PNP chief Director General Alan Purisima, SAF chief Director Getulio Napeñas, SAF deputy commander Chief Supt. Noli Taliño and intelligence group chief Senior Supt. Fernando Mendez. …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options