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Serbian Court Sentences Two for War Crimes During Bosnian War

Nov. 22 (Bloomberg) -- Serbia’s War Crimes Court sentenced two men to prison for their role in the deaths of about 700 Bosnian Muslims during the 1992-95 civil war.

Branko Grujic, 66, and Branko Popovic, 61, were in a group that “imprisoned, inhumanely treated and killed around 700 people” in the town of Zvornik near the Serbian-Bosnian border from May to July 1992, according to a copy of the verdict, handed down today. More than 1,600 civilians were forced to leave the Zvornik area, it said. The bodies of 352 victims have been found and identified since the war.

Grujic, a municipal official in Zvornik during the war, was sentenced to six years, while Popovic, a former territorial defense commander, was given 15 years in jail.

The sentence is “inadequate” considering “the number of the victims” and the “brutality of the crime,” the office of the war crimes prosecutor in Belgrade said in an e-mailed statement after the verdict.

Serbia has prosecuted dozens of paramilitary leaders and other individuals for atrocities during the breakup of the former Yugoslavia.

Six people have been sentenced to a total of 45 years in prison and another eight have been accused of war crimes against Muslims in Zvornik.

Arresting and handing over 68-year-old Ratko Mladic to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague remains the Balkan nation’s key obstacle to faster integration with the European Union.

Mladic and Goran Hadzic, who headed a breakaway Serb faction in Croatia, are the two last fugitives sought by Yugoslav war-crimes prosecutors in The Hague.

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