The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) [official website] on Tuesday upheld [judgment, PDF] the life sentence Milan Lukic, a Bosnian Serb commander who was sentenced to life in prison for crimes that include burning more than 100 people alive during the 1992 Bosnian War. Lukic was arrested [JURIST report] in August 2005 and prosecuted as the leader of an ethnic Serb paramilitary group known as the White Eagles. Lukic was tried [case materials] and convicted [JURIST report] on counts of persecution, murder, extermination, cruel treatment, and inhuman acts against Bosnian Muslims. Among his many crimes against humanity, he is most notorious for barricading over 50 Muslim men, women and children inside a house and setting it on fire. Lukic submitted eight appeals against his convictions, but the court rejected almost all aspects of his case and confirmed [press release] that the life sentence would stand.
This marks the first time that the Appeals Chamber has ever upheld a life imprisonment sentence. Lukic's cousin, Sredoje Lukic, had his sentence reduced from 30 to 27 years by the same court Tuesday, after being convicted in aiding and abetting his cousin's crimes.
Since its establishment in 1993, the ICTY has indicted 161 people for violations of humanitarian law committed in the territory of the former Yugoslavia between 1991 and 2001. In November, the ICTY acquitted [JURIST report] former Kosovo Liberation Army commanders Ramush Haradinaj [JURIST op-ed], Idriz Balaj, and Laji Brahimaj of all charges. Also in November, the ICTY overturned the convictions [JURIST report] of two Croat generals for crimes against humanity and war crimes against Serb civilians committed during a 1995 military blitz. Ex-Yugoslav army chief Momcilo Perisic began his appeal [JURIST report] before the ICTY in October in an attempt to overturn his conviction [JURIST report] on crimes against humanity and war crimes committed during the wars in Bosnia and Croatia. Earlier in October, the ICTY opened the trial of Goran Hadzic [JURIST report], the last suspect remaining to be tried by the court.