SARAJEVO (Reuters) - Bosnia’s war crimes court sentenced seven Bosnian Serbs to prison terms ranging from 38 to 42 years on Tuesday for taking part in the mass killing of Bosnian Muslims in Srebrenica in July 1995.
“They killed several hundred Bosniaks (Bosnian Muslims) from Srebrenica,” said judge Hilmo Vucinic.
He said it was impossible to determine the exact number killed by the group in only one day, July 13, 1995. More than 1,000 Bosnian Muslims had been kept in a warehouse in the village of Kravice.
The two-year trial ended a week after Bosnian Serb wartime leader Radovan Karadzic was arrested in Belgrade after being on the run for 11 years. He is indicted by the United Nations war crimes tribunal in The Hague for orchestrating the Srebrenica massacre of some 8,000 people.
Some of the killers fired machine guns at prisoners and one threw hand grenades at them. Others guarded the warehouse to prevent prisoners from escaping through windows.
The sentence was the first by a Bosnian court for genocide in Srebrenica, a U.N. “safe haven” during the 1992-95 war.
On July 11, 1995, the enclave was taken over by Bosnian Serb troops commanded by Karadzic’s military chief, General Ratko Mladic.
They separated off some 25,000 women and children and bused them to territory held by the Bosnian Muslim army. Over the following week, they hunted down and killed some 8,000 out of 15,000 men who tried to escape through the woods.
Karadzic and Mladic have been indicted for the massacre, Europe’s worst atrocity since World War Two, and over the 43-month siege of Sarajevo. Mladic is still at large and believed to be hiding in Serbia.
Four other Bosnian Serbs from a group of 11 charged in a joint indictment were acquitted due to lack of evidence and immediately released.
Relatives of the victims said they were disappointed at the acquittals.
“My pain can never be healed,” said Munira Subasic, who lost her husband and son in the massacre. “The children of these criminals still have their fathers, their wives have husbands, their mothers have their sons. We still search for our dearest.”
Editing by Ellie Tzortzi and Robert Hart