REUTERS - Seven former Bosnian Serb military leaders were convicted and sentenced to up to life in prison on Thursday for war crimes related to the 1995 Srebrenica massacre of thousands of Muslim men in the former Yugoslavia.
Vujadin Popovic, and Ljubisa Beara, two former Serbian army chiefs of security, were found guilty of genocide, extermination, murder and persecution and received life terms, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) said in a statement.
"Popovic knew that the intent was not just to kill those who had fallen into the hands of the Bosnian Serb Forces, but to kill as many as possible with the aim of destroying the group," the ICTY's Trial Chamber II said.
Drago Nikolic, another former security chief, was found guilty of crimes including murder and persecution and sentenced to 35 years, while the four other officials received sentences between 19 and 5 years for related crimes.
The judgement on Thursday concerns the largest trial to date held before the tribunal.
The Chamber said it had identified at least 5,336 people who were killed after the fall of UN enclave Srebrenica in July 1995, but said the total could be almost 8,000.
The convictions were also for crimes related to the 1995 fall of U.N. enclave Zepa. The Chamber said the forcible removal of Bosnian Muslims from the Zepa and Srebrenica enclaves was a "joint criminal enterprise."
The Srebrenica massacre is part of indictments against Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, whose trial is still ongoing, and Bosnian Serb army leader Ratko Mladic, who is still sought for genocide at the enclave.
Bosnian Serb forces commanded by Mladic killed thousands of Bosnian Muslim men and boys after the U.N.-protected "safe area" zone fell into their hands near the end of Bosnia's 1992-95 war.
Most were killed while trying to escape through the woods, or arrested and then taken to places of execution before burial in mass graves.