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Last Updated: Wednesday, 31 March, 2004, 15:15 GMT 16:15 UK
Bosnian Serb jailed for massacre
Darko Mrdja being led to the courtroom of the UN war crimes tribunal for the verdict
Mrdja was captured in Bosnia by Nato-led troops in 2002
A former Bosnian Serb policeman has been jailed for 17 years for his part in the massacre of more than 200 men in Bosnia-Hercegovina in 1992.

Darko Mrdja had confessed before the war crimes tribunal in The Hague to taking part in the shootings of at least 228 prisoners - all non-Serbs.

The indictment said he ordered the men, Muslims and Croats, to be separated from the women and child prisoners.

The men were then taken to Mount Vlasic, where they were shot by police.

Mrdja, 36, stood silently as Judge Alphonse Orie read the verdict on Wednesday.

"The sentence should reflect all of the cruelty embodied in Darko Mrdja's participation in the killing and the shooting," Judge Orie said.

'Prisoner exchange'

Mrdja was a police commander in the northwestern Serb-dominated city of Prijedor, where thousands of non-Serb civilians were captured and held in detention camps when the Bosnian war erupted in 1992.

We do not accept that Mrdja had no alternative but to participate in the massacre
Judge Alphonse Orie
The indictment against Mrdja said that hundreds of Muslim and Croat prisoners from the town of Tukovi were put on buses which set off from northern Bosnia heading for Travnik, north-west of Sarajevo.

En route, Mrdja ordered the women and children to be separated from the men of military age, according to the indictment.

They were told they were part of a prisoner exchange. But the men were then shot at the edge of a cliff at Mount Vlasic.

Witnesses estimate that more than 200 men were killed by the shot or the fall, although the exact number is unknown, the BBC's Geraldine Coughlin in The Hague reports.

Twelve men survived.

Guilty plea

Mrdja was captured by Nato-led troops in Bosnia in June 2002 after UN prosecutors secretly brought charges against him.

The sentence was in line with what the prosecution had requested.

Mrdja pleaded guilty to murder and attempted murder.

His lawyers had asked for a sentence of no more than 15 years, arguing that he acted under the orders of his superiors and expressed remorse for his crime.

"We do not accept that Mrdja had no alternative but to participate in the massacre," Judge Orie said.


SEE ALSO:
Bosnian Serb denies killings
17 Jun 02  |  Europe
Bosnia massacre suspect held
08 Jul 02  |  Europe


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