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Ex-police officer sentenced to 20 years for role in Srebrenica massacre

The war crimes court [official website] of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) on Friday sentenced a former Bosnian Serb police officer to 20 years in prison for his role in the 1995 Srebrenica massacre [HRW backgrounder; JURIST news archive]. 42-year-old Bozidar Kuvelja was found to have been actively involved in a 1995 military search for Bosnian Muslims [press release] in the village of Potocari during the Bosnian War [BBC backgrounder]. After seizing the victims from their homes, Kuvjela assisted members of his police unit in their transport to a warehouse collection point known as "the White House" where they were detained and subjected to physical abuse. The following day, Kuvjela then helped to separate the victims by sex, whereupon he and the others began the systematic execution of more than a thousand Muslim men and boys, ages 7 to 70. Kuvjela was found to have helped to coerce survivors from the warehouse with the promise of medical assistance, only to execute them with automatic rifles. The former police officer also used a pistol to execute those who showed signs of life after the initial killings. The prosecution has announced plans to appeal for a longer sentence in light of the nature of the crimes. The court ordered Kuvjela into custody in January 2011 and confirmed his indictment [JURIST report] for crimes including genocide that March.

The 1995 mass executions at Srebrenica have been characterized as the most horrific massacre since post-war Europe, as more than 8,000 Muslim Bosniak men and boys were murdered at the hands of Bosnian Serb military forces under General Ratko Mladic. In December, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) sentenced [JURIST report] a former Bosnian Serb army commander of genocide and crimes against humanity for his role in the massacre. BiH in particular has been continuously prosecuting, convicting and sentencing those responsible for the killings, and even those who left the country are being brought back to face charges. In December the BiH war crimes court acquitted two Serbian defendants [JURIST report] of involvement in the massacre. In June the court sentenced [JURIST report] four former Bosnian Serb soldiers for their involvement in the massacre. In May US resident Dejan Radojkovic was deported [JURIST report] to BiH to stand trial before the country's court for his actions as a police commander in Srebrenica during the 1995 massacre. He was the second to be deported after his commanding officer, Nedjo Ikonic, was deported in 2010 [JURIST report]. A day earlier, the war crimes court convicted [JURIST report] Dusko Jevic and Mendeljev Djuric for taking part in the killing of 1,000 Muslim men during the massacre after it found that the two former Bosnian Serb police officers were guilty of aiding and abetting genocide.

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