International war crimes judges in The Hague have upheld a life sentence against Zdravko Tolimir, for involvement in the 1995 Srebrenica genocide.
The ex right-hand man of former Bosnian Serb military commander Ratko Mladic was appealing a 2012 conviction of genocide and other crimes related to the massacre of some 8,000 Muslim men and boys in eastern Bosnia.
Tolimir is the former head of Bosnian Serb military intelligence. He reported directly to Mladic, who is still on trial in The Hague for crimes including the massacre in Srebrenica.
The Tribunal has indicted 161 people for serious violations of humanitarian law committed between 1991 and 2001 in the former Yugoslavia. It has now concluded proceedings against 147.
Zepa conviction overturned
Tomilir’s conviction for the forcible transfer of Muslims from the UN-protected town of Zepa was ruled not to have amounted to genocide and was overturned.
Speaking from The Hague, Munira Subasic, President of the Association of Mothers of Srebrenica and Zepa, expressed mixed feelings about the new ruling:
“I’m satisfied,” she said. “Firstly, because he got a life sentence, which again confirmed he is responsible for genocide in Srebrenica and that genocide happened there. But I’m not satisfied about the Zepa part and the people who suffered there, for which he was responsible.”
Europe’s worst atrocity since WWII
The Srebrenica killings amount to Europe’s worst mass extermination since World War II. During the 1992-95 war following Bosnia’s secession from the then-federal Yugoslavia, 100,000 people were killed.
Kadira Gabeljic represents the Mothers of Srebrenica and Zepa Enclaves. She said:
“I am glad to see this verdict was reached, but this is just a small portion of all war crimes committed during 1995.”
The genocide formed part of a campaign of ethnic cleansing by nationalist Serbs wishing to remove all Muslims and Croats from multi-ethnic Bosnia, in order to carve out a Serb state.