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UN court jails Bosnian Serb cousins for 'vicious' murders of Muslims

Video by Carla WESTERHEIDE

Text by FRANCE 24 (with wires)

Latest update : 2009-07-20

A UN war crimes tribunal on Monday jailed two Serb cousins for the deaths of some 150 Muslim civilians during Bosnia's 1992-1995 war. Milan Lukic was sentenced to life, while his cousin Sredoje received a 30-year term.

The UN war crimes tribunal in The Hague delivered its verdict on Monday, sentencing two Serb cousins to life and 30 years’ imprisonment for the “vicious” killing of some 150 Muslim civilians during Bosnia's 1992-1995 war.

Milan and Sredoje Lukic, who went on trial on July 9 last year, faced 21 counts of crimes against humanity and war crimes for their actions as members of a paramilitary group in the small south-eastern Bosnian town of Visegrad.

The prosecution had called 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.

 

A catalogue of crimes

Charges against the pair before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) included murder, torture and crimes against humanity.

Milan Lukic was found guilty of having been among a group that 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 among another group who killed seven Muslim factory workers in a similar manner.

The court also found Milan Lukic guilty of setting fire to a house that same month, where he and his cousin had barricaded Muslim women, children and elderly men, shooting at those trying to escape and killing 70 people in all. The cousins had also severely beaten the detainees.

They made a similar attack on another house a few days later, causing the deaths of about another 70 civilians.

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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