UN seeks life sentence for former Bosnian Serb general over Srebrenica

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 23 August, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 23 August, 2012, 9:16am


United Nations prosecutors in the Yugoslav war crimes court called for a life sentence against former Bosnian Serb general Zdravko Tolimir for his role in the 1995 Srebrenica massacre.

"There is only one sentence for this crime and that is life in prison," prosecutor Peter McCloskey said in closing arguments before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague on Tuesday.

Tolimir, 63, is accused of committing genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity during Bosnia's 1992 to 1995 war which claimed 100,000 lives and left 2.2 million others homeless.

He faces eight counts that include murder as well as forcible deportation.

Prosecutors said the former intelligence chief - who reported directly to Bosnian Serb army chief Ratko Mladic - was part of a grand scheme to murder thousands of Muslim men and boys and expel thousands of women and children at Srebrenica in 1995 in order to create a "mono-ethnic Serb state".

Almost 8,000 Muslim men and boys were murdered in July 1995 in the "safe area" when Dutch UN peacekeepers were overrun by Mladic's forces.

It was deemed the worst atrocity on European soil since the second world war.

Prosecutors said Mladic relied on Tolimir to "carry out the slow strangling of the Srebrenica and Zepa enclaves" to create conditions which would force the Muslim population "to give up hope of survival".

"He [Tolimir] deliberately chose loyalty to Mladic, loyalty to the cause ... over his duty to his God to say no, and his duty under law to stop," McCloskey said of Tolimir, who he said was "very bright, very impressive".

"By choosing Mladic over the law, he lost his humanity.

"He represents ... this unique genocide that happened in Srebrenica and he carries that with him personally and will forever."

Tolimir has pleaded not guilty and has chosen to conduct his own defence.