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Serbia war crimes court convicts ex-police of killing civilians in Kosovo war

[JURIST] Four former Serbian policemen were convicted [BETA report] Thursday of the killing of 48 Albanian civilians in Suva Reka during the war in Kosovo [State Department backgrounder] in 1999. Their trial in a Serbian war crimes court began in October 2005 with eight men accused of rounding up and shooting [indictment, MHT] the civilians, including 46 members of one family, the Berishas. Former policemen Radojko Repanovic and Sladjan Cukaric each received 20 years in prison, while Miroslav Petkovic was sentenced to 15 years. Former State Security Department official Milorad Nisavic was also sentenced to 13 years. Former Police Special Unit Commander Radoslav Mitrovic, Nenad Jovanovic, and Zoran Petkovic were acquitted, though the Serbia War Crimes Prosecutor [official website] plans to appeal the acquittals [BBC report]. Advocacy group Humanitarian Law Center [advocacy website] decried the acquittals [press release, DOC], calling them "unjust for both the victims and the accused" and saying "there were no mitigating circumstances to justify such a low sentence" for Nisavic .

The convictions for the Suva Reka killings are the latest for war crimes committed during the Kosovo war. In October, former policeman Vaso Todorovic was convicted of crimes against humanity [JURIST report] for the capture and detention of 40,000 Bosnian Muslims in 1995. Earlier that month, four Bosnian Serbs were arrested for the killing [JURIST report] of 200 civilians in Koricanske Stijene. In 2006, former parliamentary leader Momcilo Krajisnik was sentenced to 27 years in prison [JURIST report] for the forced transfer, deportation, and persecution of non-Serbs. His sentence was later reduced to 20 years [JURIST report].

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