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ICTY cuts Srebrenica massacre sentence of Bosnian Serb commander

[JURIST] Appellate judges at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia [official website] on Wednesday reduced the sentence [press release] of former Bosnian Serb army commander Momir Nikolic [ICTY case backgrounder] to 20 years, saying the lower chamber erred by failing to recognize Nikolic's cooperation with prosecutors. As part of a plea agreement [text], Nikolic pleaded guilty in 2003 to one count of persecution and prosecutors dropped other charges, including genocide, murder and extermination, in exchange for Nikolic's testimony against former superiors. Nikolic became the first Bosnian Serb military officer to publicly tell of the 1995 Srebrenica massacre [BBC backgrounder] from the military's perspective.

In December 2003, Nikolic was sentenced to 27 years in prison [sentencing judgment; JURIST report], with the trial court saying that Nikolic played a significant role in the massacre of over 8,000 Muslims at Srebrenica. In the appeals ruling [judgment text, PDF; summary], the court reduced Nikolic's sentencing because the trial court relied on an incorrect translation of a statement from Nikolic about the number of deaths during the massacre; the trial court erred in allowing the same factor - Nikolic's active role in the massacre - to influence Nikolic's sentence twice when considering the gravity of the offense and as an aggravating factor; and because the trial court failed to take into account the prosecution's assessment of Nikolic's cooperation. AP has more.

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