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The BBC's Jim Fish reports
"He'll stay behind bars in Hague for most of the next decade"
 real 28k

The BBC's Geraldine Coughlan
"Tadic's conviction covers 20 counts of murder, persecution and cruel and inhuman treatment"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 26 January, 2000, 11:46 GMT
Sentence cut for Bosnian war criminal

Last day in court for Dusan Tadic?


The United Nations War Crimes Tribunal has reduced the 25-year sentence against Dusan Tadic by five years, bringing its longest case to completion.

It has been nearly six years since Tadic, a Bosnian Serb policeman convicted for torture and murder of Muslims and Croats, was arrested in Munich in February 1994.

The tribunal found Tadic's sentence was "excessive" and cut it to 20 years, the same prison term handed down before an November 1999 appeals ruling increased the sentence.

Omarska 1992: Concentration camps return to Europe
Judge Mohammed Shahabuddeen said that, although Tadic was convicted of "incontestably heinous" crimes, he was at a very low level of command compared with the architects of ethnic cleansing among the Bosnian Serb leadership.

The judge also said Tadic would get credit for time spent in custody before the November 1999 ruling.

But Judge Shahabuddeen said he should serve at least 10 years of his sentence from his original conviction in July 1997.

Tadic in the dock
Feb 1994 - arrested in Germany
April 1995 - charged with war crimes
May 1996 - found guilty
July 1997 - handed 20 year sentence
Nov 1999 - sentence increased to 25 years
Jan 2000 - increase overturned
A former leader of the Serb Democratic Party, and a reserve policeman, Tadic was indicted for his part in the two-day attack on Kozarac, when 800 civilians were killed by Bosnian Serbs.

He was also found guilty of assisting forced expulsions of Muslims and Croats and participating with Serb forces in torture and killing at the notorious "White House" in the Omarska detention camp.

Although Wednesday's judgement seeks finally to close the book on Tadic's long trial, one last complication remains on the horizon.

If his former defence counsel, Milan Vujin, is found guilty of contempt of court by the appeals chamber on Monday, he will be entitled to a review of his case on the grounds of having received an unfair trial.

Tadpole

During his trial Tadic was described by another of is defence lawyers, John Livinstone, as "a tadpole in a pool of sharks".

"The sharks," he said, referring to the major players in the Bosnian Serb leadership, "have yet to be caught, but one has to ask what sort of sentence they will get and whether there is a proper differentiation."

Critics of the tribunal said Tadic, whose trial came as the body was struggling to establish credibility, was made a scapegoat for the crimes of his superiors.

These included the Bosnian Serb wartime leader Radovan Karadzic, wanted for crimes against humanity, and General Ratko Mladic, who led the Bosnian Serb forces and faces the same charges. Both men remain at large.

Judge Claude Jorda, who heads the tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, said Tadic's case had taken so long to reach a conclusion because it was the first war crimes case.

The case "was an extraordinary testing ground" in the application international human rights law, he said.

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See also:
14 Jan 00 |  Europe
Analysis: Big fish still at large
11 Nov 99 |  Europe
Profile of a war criminal
14 Jan 00 |  Europe
Croat soldiers guilty of war crimes
11 Nov 99 |  Europe
Analysis: Tribunal's balance sheet
11 Nov 99 |  Europe
War criminal gets extended sentence

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