SARAJEVO, Jan 22 (Reuters) – Bosnia’s war crimes court on Friday jailed Bosnian Muslim wartime commander Sakib Mahmuljin for 10 years for failing to prevent or punish atrocities against Serb prisoners by foreign Islamists who fought in the 1990s conflict.
Hundreds of Islamist fighters, or “mujahideen”, came from North Africa and the Middle East to help the mainly Muslim Bosnian government forces fight separatist Orthodox Serbs and Catholic Croats during the war, in which 100,000 people died.
Mahmuljin, 68, was convicted in a five-year-long trial of failing to prevent or punish killings and inhumane treatment of Serb prisoners of war, some of whom were wounded or ill, and some Serb civilians, the Sarajevo court said.
In its verdict, the court said it determined that foreign Islamists murdered 53 Serb prisoners of war from July to October 1995, towards the end of the war. During this period, they tortured some prisoners and decapitated one of them, it said.
Mahmuljin, who commanded the Bosnian army’s 3rd Corps, may appeal the verdict.
The court was set up in 2005 to ease the burden of cases taken by the United Nations war crimes tribunal in The Hague.
The war erupted when Bosnian Serbs, rejecting the proclamation of independence of Bosnia from Serbian-led federal Yugoslavia, attacked cities and villages across the country in a bid to carve out territory for an exclusive Serb state.
The U.S.-sponsored Dayton peace agreement ended the conflict in December 1995 by splitting Bosnia into two largely autonomous regions along ethnic lines.
After the war ended, foreign Islamists were ordered to leave Bosnia under U.S. pressure and most did, including those who married local women but then had their citizenship revoked.
(Reporting by Daria Sito-Sucic Editing by Mark Heinrich)
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