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Court to rule on Serb cousins accused in Muslim civilian deaths

Video by Shona BHATTACHARYYA , Jonathan WALSH

Text by FRANCE 24 (with wires)

Latest update : 2009-07-20

The UN war crimes tribunal in The Hague will deliver its verdict Monday on two Serb cousins who are accused in the deaths of some 150 Muslim civilians during Bosnia's 1992-1995 war. Milan and Sredoje Lukic went on trial on July 9 last year.

The UN war crimes tribunal in The Hague will deliver its verdict Monday on two Serb cousins who are accused in the deaths of some 150 Muslim civilians during Bosnia's 1992-1995 war.
   
Milan and Sredoje Lukic, who went on trial on July 9 last year, face 21 counts of crimes against humanity and war crimes for their alleged actions as members of a paramilitary group in the small south-eastern Bosnian town of Visegrad.
   
The prosecution is calling for them to spend the rest of their lives in prison for their part in "one of the most notorious campaigns of ethnic cleansing in the conflict... designed to permanently rid the town of its Bosnian Muslim population", according to the indictment.
   
Milan, 41, was allegedly a founding member of the 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, 48, joined later.
   
Charges against the pair before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) include murder, torture and extermination.
   
Milan Lukic is accused of having been among a group who led seven Bosnian Muslim men to a river in June 1992, lined them up along its bank and opened fire with automatic weapons, killing five.
   
A few days later, he was allegedly among another group who killed seven Muslim factory workers in a similar manner.
   
Both Milan and his cousin are charged with setting fire to a house that same month in which they had barricaded Muslim women, children and elderly men, shooting at those trying to escape and killing 70 people in all.
   
They allegedly made a similar attack on another house a few days later, causing the deaths of about another 70 civilians.
   
The cousins are also alleged to have severely beaten Bosnian Muslim detainees.
   
In 2003, Milan Lukic was sentenced to 20 years in prison after a trial in absentia in Belgrade for the kidnapping, torture and murder of 16 Muslims from Sjeverin in Serbia in 1992. The men were passengers on a bus whose remains have never been found.
   
Milan Lukic was transferred to The Hague in February 2006 from Argentina, where he was arrested in August 2005, having been 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 on September 13, 2005, and was transferred to The Hague three days later.  
   
Both had been on a list of 10 most-wanted Serbs.

Date created : 2009-07-20

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