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Last Updated: Tuesday, 2 December, 2003, 15:42 GMT
Serb jailed for Srebrenica deaths
Nikolic in April 2002
Nikolic has given the first glimpse into Srebrenica
A former Bosnian Serb army commander has been sentenced to 27 years in jail for his role in the Srebrenica massacre in Bosnia-Hercegovina in 1995.

The sentence, by the international war crimes tribunal at The Hague, comes after Momir Nikolic's guilty plea last May to crimes against humanity.

More than 7,000 Muslim men and boys were killed in the massacre - Europe's worst since World War II.

Fugitive Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic is alleged to have ordered it.

'Not adequate'

Nikolic, 48, was a deputy intelligence chief with the Bosnian Serb army's Bratunac brigade, which allegedly took part in the mass executions of civilians from the Muslim enclave of Srebrenica.

The prosecution had demanded a jail term of 15 to 20 years.

But this did not "adequately reflect the totality" of Nikolic's conduct, said presiding Judge Liu Daqun, instead passing the 27-year sentence.

He said Nikolic was an "active participant" in the massacre and willingly terrorised Muslim civilians.

Radovan Karadzic
The tribunal has been told Karadzic ordered the massacre
"By his own account, he appears to have taken a very active - even proactive - role in ensuring the operation went forward and was in his words 'successful," Judge Liu said.

Originally, Nikolic pleaded not guilty to the charges, but changed his plea and agreed to testify against three co-defendants, including - Vladoje Blagojevic and Dragan Obrenovic, accused of genocide, extermination, murder and persecution alongside Dragan Jokic, who was a major.

In exchange, the prosecution dropped the more serious charges against him, including genocide.

Nikolic was the first former Bosnian Serb officer to give an insight into the large-scale operation that ended in mass executions.

A former general, Radislav Krstic, is currently appealing against the tribunal's toughest sentence yet - 46 years in prison, for genocide at Srebrenica.

The enclave was a designated UN safe haven for Bosnian Muslims, but after it was taken over by Serb forces thousands of Muslim men and boys were taken away and shot.

Srebrenica was under the protection of Dutch UN peacekeepers when it fell to the hands of the Serbs.


WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Geraldine Coughlan
"It is the longest sentence yet handed down by the court for a guilty plea"



SEE ALSO:
Srebrenica appeal opens at Hague
26 Nov 03  |  Europe
Court tense for Krstic verdict
03 Aug 01  |  Europe
Where are Karadzic and Mladic?
06 Jul 01  |  Europe


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