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Thursday, November 11, 1999 Published at 09:30 GMT

World: Europe

War criminal gets extended sentence

The court stopped short of sentencing Tadic to life imprisonment

A United Nations war crimes court on Thursday extended the jail term of a Bosnian Serb police reservist, ordering him to spend 25 years in prison for the murder of Muslim civilians in Bosnia in 1992.

The International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia (ICTY) sentenced Dusan Tadic, 44, to between six and 25 years imprisonment for the five killings and grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions.

The term will run concurrently with a 20-year sentence which Tadic is already serving for war crimes, including two murders and the torture and rape of dozens of non-Serbs in a 1992 ethnic purge of Bosnian Muslims and Croats by Serb forces in northwest Bosnia.

Fervent nationalist

[ image:  ]
Tadic, a former cafe owner and reserve policeman, has been on trial since 7 May 1997. He was the first person to be arrested and tried by the ICTY, which was set up in 1993 on the orders of the UN Security Council.

Posecutors said he was a fervent Serb nationalist who played an active role in the persecution of Muslims in Bosnia's northwestern Prijedor region.

They said he participated in Serb attacks on his home town and other villages, and helped herd villagers into camps where they were killed, beaten and kept in inhumane conditions.

Presiding judge, Gabrielle Kirk McDonald, said: "In determining the appropriate sentence... the trial chamber has considered Dusan Tadic's awareness of, and support for, the attack on the non-Serb population of Prijedor by Bosnian Serb forces and Bosnian Serb authorities."

Model detainee

The BBC's Colin Blane: "The extended jail term was primarily for grave breaches of the Geneva Convention"
She suggested that the court had stopped short of giving Tadic life in prison, the maximum sentence it may hand down, because of his behaviour in custody as a "model detainee" and had taken into account the effect of the length of the sentence on his family.

Tadic, looking tired and pale, stood with his eyes downcast as the sentence was read.

His lawyer, John Livingston, said he would appeal, criticising the ruling as out of proportion with his client's relatively minor role in the 1992-95 Bosnia conflict.

"He was a tadpole in a pool of sharks. The sharks have yet to be caught, but one has to ask what sort of sentence they will get and whether there is a proper differentiation."

Close to tears

[ image: Tadic's trial began in 1995]
Tadic's trial began in 1995
He said he had never seen Tadic so close to tears in court.

Prosecutors welcomed the decision, but a spokesman said they believed the new sentence should have been imposed to run after the original sentence, instead of concurrently.

The new jail term follows a ruling by the tribunal in July that classified the Bosnian war as an international conflict. The court said the Bosnian Serbs were supported by allies in Serb-dominated Yugoslavia.

This ruling will strengthen the case against other war crimes suspects, just as it made Tadic liable for additional offences.

To date the tribunal has handed down verdicts in six cases. Thirty two people accused of war crimes are currently in its custody, and more than 30 publicly indicted individuals, including former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, remain at large.

Tadic may serve his sentences in one of several countries that have offered to take Balkan war criminals: Norway, Sweden, Finland, Austria and Italy.

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