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Bosnian Serb ex-soldier jailed for 20 years for burning 57 Muslim civilians

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SARAJEVO (Reuters) – A Bosnian court jailed a former Bosnian Serb soldier for 20 years on Wednesday for setting ablaze 57 Muslim Bosniaks, of whom 26 including a two-day-old baby died, near the eastern town of Visegrad early in Bosnia’s 1992-95 war.

Radomir Susnjar, 64, known as Lalco, was also found guilty of robbery and illegal detention of civilians, the court said.

The group of Muslim Bosniaks had been seized after an attack on the village of Koritnik and locked in a house that was set ablaze with an accelerant and explosives while Susnjar and other Bosnian Serb Army members shot at it to prevent anyone fleeing.

“The attack resulted in the killing of 25 civilians and a two-day-old baby whose remains were never found,” the court said in a statement.

One civilian sustained serious injuries while others managed to escape.

Susnjar had lived in France for many years before being tracked down and arrested on a Bosnian warrant. He was held in custody there for four years before being extradited to Bosnia last year.

Bosnian Serbs Milan and Sredoje Lukic were sentenced by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in 2012 to life and 27 years in prison respectively for the same crimes.

Bosnian Serb forces, helped by the now-defunct Serb-dominated Yugoslav People’s Army (JNA) and Serbian paramilitaries, committed atrocities against Muslims in eastern Bosnia early in the conflict as part of their bid to create exclusively Serb territories.

Around 100,000 people died in the war, a large majority of them Bosniaks.

The ICTY, set up to prosecute atrocities committed during the breakup of Yugoslavia in the 1990s, closed its doors late in 2017, having tried 161 suspects. Lower-ranking cases have been handled by the Bosnian war crimes court.

(Reporting by Maja Zuvela; Editing by David Holmes)

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