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Thursday, March 5, 1998 Published at 10:43 GMT

World: Europe

Croat war criminal jailed for five years for killing 100 Muslims
image: [ Drazen Erdemovic has helped prosecutors ]
Drazen Erdemovic has helped prosecutors

Judges at the Yugoslav tribunal in The Hague have sentenced a Bosnian Croat to five years in prison for his part in a massacre in which he admitted killing at least a hundred people.

Drazen Erdemovic had been expecting a tougher sentence, and both the prosecution and defence had suggested a term of seven years.

Erdemovic, 26, had tears in his eyes as sentence was passed. Although he is a Croat, he had admitted being part of a Bosnian Serb execution squad which shot up to 1,200 unarmed Muslim men in one day after the fall of Srebrenica in 1995.

Judges said that while they could not lose sight of the terror and suffering of the victims, there were mitigating circumstances for Erdemovic, they said.

He had committed crimes under threat of death and has since shown deep remorse. He had also co-operated with prosecutors, having testified against Radovan Karadzic and General Ratko Mladic, and given information on the Serb military command.

Prosecutors did not even know about the massacre until Erdemovic admitted his role.

The judges said his youth and character meant that he was reformable and should be given a second chance to start his life afresh while still young enough to do so.

The five-year sentence means that with time served Erdemovic will be free by the time he is 29.


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