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ICTY sentences Bosnian Croat militia leader to 12 years for war crimes

[JURIST] [JURIST Europe] The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) [official website] Monday sentenced [ICTY press release] former Bosnia Croat militia commander Ivica Rajic to twelve years in prison [ICTY judgment, text] for leading an October 1993 attack against civilians living in Stupni Do, a Bosnian Muslim village. Originally pleading not guilty to the 10 charges levied against him, Rajic subsequently submitted to a plea bargain agreement that allowed for the imposition of one sentencing period ranging from twelve to fifteen years. On October 2005, he pleaded guilty to four of the 10 counts, namely the "wilful killing, inhuman treatment, extensive destruction and appropriation of property not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly", all in violation of the 1949 Geneva Conventions [text]. The tribunal examined both aggravating and mitigating circumstances. Calling Rajic's crimes against 'particularly vulnerable victims' especially egregious, the tribunal referred to the burning of seven members of one Muslim family, including two children, and that of two elderly women, one of which was an invalid. The tribunal accepted Rajic's remorse, which was viewed as sincere along with his guilty plea, and cooperation with the prosecution as mitigating factors.

At least 31 people were reported to have been killed during the attack led by Rajic with women sexually assaulted, villagers robbed and removed from their homes, the village destroyed, and an additional 250 Muslim men detained and abused in the neighboring town of Vares. Rajic, who has legally changed his name to Viktor Andric, will begin serving his sentence once he has been moved to a State where he can do so. Until then, he will remain in the custody of the war crimes tribunal. The UN News Centre has more.

Angela Onikepe is an Associate Editor for JURIST Europe, reporting European legal news from a European perspective. She is based in the UK.

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