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ICTY reduces sentence for officer convicted of Vukovar killings

The appeals chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) [official website] on Wednesday vacated the conviction [judgment summary, PDF; press release] of Veselin Sljivancanin [BBC profile; ICTY materials] for his role in killing 194 Croatian prisoners of war near Vukovar [BBC backgrounder; ICTY backgrounder, PDF] in 1991, reducing his sentence from 17 years to 10. Sljivancanin was convicted in 2007 of aiding and abetting the torture of non-Serb prisoners taken from Vukovar Hospital to the farm near Ovcara and sentenced to a term of five years. His conviction was upheld [JURIST report] by the appeals chamber in 2009, which added an additional conviction for aiding and abetting murder and increased his sentence to 17 years. The appeals chamber granted Sljivancanin's application for review in July, and, based on new evidence, vacated the murder conviction. The appeals chamber found that the original five-year sentence was inadequate for aiding and abetting torture and sentenced him to 10 years.

Last month, Serbian President Boris Tadic [official website, in Serbian] apologized [JURIST report] for Serbian war crimes during a visit to Croatia. Tadic and Croatian President Ivo Josipovic [official website, in Croatian] together visited a memorial in Vukovar. Tadic said, "I came here to offer an apology and express regret." Tadic is the first Serbian president to visit the site [BBC report], as the two countries continue to try to find ways to improve relations. Opposition in both countries criticized the visit, calling it nothing more than a political stunt and meaningless.

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