Former Bosnian Muslim general Sakib Mahmuljin convicted of war crimes

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By Euronews  with AP, AFP
Then Bosnian Muslim defence minister Sakib Mahmuljin, pictured in 1999.
Then Bosnian Muslim defence minister Sakib Mahmuljin, pictured in 1999.   -  Copyright  FILE - AP PHOTO/HIDAJET DELIC

A former general of Bosnian Muslim forces has been convicted of war crimes by a court in Sarajevo.

Sakib Mahmuljin was found guilty of responsibility in the deaths of more than 50 Serb prisoners of war in the Vozuca and Zavidovici region during the 1992-95 conflict.

The Court of Bosnia-Herzegovina ruled the wartime Bosnian Army Third Corps commander did nothing to prevent crimes committed by Islamic volunteer fighters in the El Mujahedin.

Mahmuljin had pleaded not guilty, with his lawyers insisting he had no real command over the unit. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison on Friday but can appeal the verdict.

The indictment said that members of the El Mujahedin included foreign jihadists from African countries, the Middle East, and even some Western nations.

The forces were found to have killed at least 55 imprisoned Bosnian Serb soldiers between July and September 1995 in central Bosnia.

Mahmuljin had "failed to prevent crimes of murder and inhuman treatment from being committed" and "to ensure that the perpetrators of these crimes are punished," the court said in a statement.

He was also found guilty, in his capacity as general, of torturing several civilians and wounding prisoners of war. The conviction is one of few involving former senior military officials of the Bosnian Muslim forces.

Around 100,000 people died during the war in Bosnia, which started when the Bosniak-led government declared independence from Serb-led Yugoslavia, triggering a rebellion.

The conflict ended in a US-brokered peace agreement in 1995, but the country remains ethnically divided and impoverished despite international efforts at reconciliation.

The Sarajevo-based Research and Documentation Center, IDC, said in a 2007 report that Bosnian Muslims made up 66% of the dead, Serbs 25% and Croats 8%.