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Life Sentence Upheld for Bosnian Serb General Tolimir

Appeals Chamber rules that ex-intelligence chief must serve term handed down in 2012.
By Daniella Peled
  • Zdravko Tolimir in the ICTY courtroom. (Photo: ICTY)
    Zdravko Tolimir in the ICTY courtroom. (Photo: ICTY)

Judges at the Hague tribunal have upheld the life sentence against former Bosnian Serb army general Zdravko Tolimir for his role in the 1995 Srebrenica genocide.

Tolimir, who was assistant commander for intelligence and security in the Bosnian Serb army during the war in Bosnia, was convicted in 2012 of conspiring to commit genocide, extermination, murder, persecution and inhumane acts through forcible transfer. (See Genocide Conviction for Serb General Tolimir.)

The 66-year-old submitted 25 grounds for appeal and asked the Appeals Chamber to reverse his convictions and sentence, or to significantly reduce his jail term.

This week, appeal judges overturned some elements of his original conviction, including parts of convictions linked to specific murders, and ruled that the forcible expulsion of Bosniaks from the United Nations-protected “safe haven” of Zepa did not amount to genocide.

The president of the Hague tribunal, Judge Theodor Meron, emphasised that the Bosnian Muslims of Zepa were nonetheless “among the ultimate victims of the genocidal enterprise against the Muslims of eastern BiH [Bosnia and Herzegovina]”.

He went on to rule that Tolimir’s role in the massacre of more than 7,000 Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica, the worst atrocity in Europe since the Holocaust, justified both the verdict of genocide and the sentence of life imprisonment.

“The Appeals Chamber notes, however, that Mr Tolimir’s remaining convictions, in particular those for genocide committed through the killings of the men from Srebrenica and through the infliction of serious bodily or mental harm to the Bosnian Muslim population of Srebrenica, are sustained,” Judge Meron said. “In light of these genocide convictions alone, the Appeals Chamber considers that Tolimir’s responsibility does not warrant a revision of his sentence.”

Tolimir was a close aide to Bosnian Serb army chief Ratko Mladic, whose war crimes trial at the Hague is ongoing.

Daniella Peled is an IWPR editor in London.

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