UN appeals judges uphold Bosnian Serb's Srebrenica genocide conviction, life sentence



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THE HAGUE, Netherlands — United Nations appeals judges on Wednesday upheld most of a Bosnian Serb army general's convictions and his life sentence for involvement in the 1995 Srebrenica genocide.

Gen. Zdravko Tolimir smiled and repeatedly crossed himself as Yugoslav war crimes tribunal President Judge Theodor Meron told him that his life sentence was confirmed on appeal.

Tolimir was convicted in December 2012 of genocide and other crimes in the 1995 massacre by Bosnian Serb forces of some 8,000 Muslim men in Srebrenica, eastern Bosnia — Europe's worst mass killing since World War II.

Tolimir was a trusted aide of former Bosnian Serb military leader Ratko Mladic. Witnesses at trial called him Mladic's "right hand. His eyes and ears," judges said in their original judgment.

Mladic is on trial at the same UN tribunal for allegedly masterminding Serb atrocities throughout the 1992-95 Bosnian war, including the Srebrenica massacre.

Meron overturned elements of Tolimir's genocide conviction linked to forcibly transferring Muslims out of the town of Zepa near Srebrenica as well as parts of his convictions for murder and extermination linked to specific small-scale killings.

But he stressed that most of his convictions remained in place.

"In light of these genocide convictions alone, the appeals chamber considers that Tolimir's responsibility does not warrant a revision of his sentence," Meron said.

Munira Subasic, president of the Association of Mothers of Srebrenica and Zepa, said she was unhappy with the parts of the conviction that were overturned but happy Tolimir's sentence was upheld and that the tribunal again underscored that Bosnian Serb forces were responsible for genocide in Srebrenica.

"I am satisfied firstly because he got life," she said outside court.

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