Two Bosnian Serb officials sentenced to 22 years in prison for crimes against humanity

Stanisic (left) and Zupljanin were found guilty of crimes committed across Bosnia in 1992

Stanisic (left) and Zupljanin were found guilty of crimes committed across Bosnia in 1992

Judges at the International Criminal Court in the Hague today sentenced two former Bosnian Serb police officers to 22 years in prison for their role in the Bosnian War in the early nineties.

The two men, Mico Stanisic 58, and Stojan Zupljanin, 61, were convicted of crimes against humanity for their part in a campaign to remove Muslims, Croats and other non-Serbs from the region. The conviction included murder, torture, sexual assault, unlawful detention and deportation.

Stanisic was interior minister of the Bosnian Serb republic and Zupljanin a senior security official at the time of the war. They are both regarded as associates of Bosnian Serb ex-leader Radovan Karadzic, who himself faces charges before the tribunal including that of genocide for allegedly masterminding ethnic cleansing in Bosnia after the breakup of the former Yugoslavia, including the Srebrenica massacre of 1995.

Some of Stanisic’s and Zupljanin’s crimes were committed when Serb forces took over the city of Prijedor in 1992, which led to the deaths of more than 1,000 people. Many inhabitants were taken to detention camps, including a particularly notorious one at Omarska, where detainees were raped and killed. Others were held in “deplorably inhumane” conditions.

Survivors at a concentration camp in Prijedor

Survivors at a concentration camp in Prijedor

“Over 100 persons were executed in room three at Keraterm camp in one night around July 25 by Serb guards,” according to a summary of the judgment read out by Judge Burton Hall. “At Omarska camp … mass executions were held from late July onwards.”

“The chamber finds that the goal of these actions was the establishment of a Serb state as ethnically pure as possible,” Judge Hall continued. “Through these acts and omissions both intended and significantly contributed to the plan of removing Muslims and Croats from the territory of the planned Serbian state.”

Stanisic gave himself up in 2005 and Zupljanin was arrested in 2008 after more than nine years on the run.

Around 100,000 people were killed during the Bosnian conflict and over two million people were displaced. The tribunal has indicted 161 people, mostly Serbs, for their role in atrocities committed in the former Yugoslavia. Only six trials remain to be completed.

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