Remember meForgot password?
    Log in with Twitter

article imageLife Sentence for Bosnian Serb Commander Who Committed War Crimes

By Chris Dade     Jul 20, 2009 in Crime
The break-up of the former state of Yugoslavia was not a peaceful one. In the early 1990s the world watched in disbelief as former friends and neighbors turned on each other in the name of religion or ethnic origin. Often it was on account of both.
Between March 1992 and November 1995, the most vicious of the conflicts that marked Yugoslavia's disintegration was the one that took place in Bosnia.
The situation there was a complicated one with Bosnians, Serbs and Croats all fighting to establish control over the areas of the country where their own ethnic groups were in the majority. Then there were their respective religions to further accentuate their divisions. Their mainly Muslim, Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic faiths were seemingly as much a cause for their division as their ethnicity.
Whilst all three sides were guilty of committing terrible acts of violence towards their enemies it was the Bosnian Serb forces, led by General Ratko Mladic, and the paramilitaries that supported them that were by far and away the worst perpetrators. Mladic, who the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia that is based in The Hague want to question about possible charges of genocide and crimes against humanity, remains at large whilst the Bosnian Serb political leader Radovan Karadzic is due to go on trial in the Hague next month when he will face charges similar to the ones for which Mladic is being sought. The Guardian newspaper has reported that Karadzic's lawyers are claiming he should not face any charges whatsoever as he had struck an "immunity deal" with the US peace envoy to the Balkans, Richard Holbrooke.
But whilst the most well known names amongst the alleged war criminals are still to be brought to justice some of the lesser known names are facing trial and being convicted. Milan Lukic is one such person.
The leader of a Bosnian Serb paramilitary force known as either the White Eagles or the Avengers, Lukic received a life sentence in the court in The Hague today for his part in a reign of terror that engulfed the Eastern Bosnian town of Visegrad between 1992 and 1994.
Lukic, who is 41 years old, was said to have personally been responsible for the deaths of over 120 Bosnian Muslim civilians when in two separate incidents women, infants, children and elderly people were forced into a room of a house before being burned alive. Any who tried to escape the fires were shot by Lukic, who also shot dead 12 civilian males and a woman at various other times. He has also been accused by some victims of the nightmare that occurred in and around Visegrad of helping organize "rape camps", where Muslim women and girls were subjected to terrible indignities. But he did not face any rape charges in court. Only charges relating to war crimes, that included murder, extermination and persecution.
In his summing up at the trial, which also saw Lukic's 48 year old cousin Sredoje Lukic sentenced to 30 years in prison for a string of identical crimes, Judge Patrick Robinson had this to say:These horrific events stand out for the viciousness of the incendiary attack, for the obvious premeditation and calculation that defined it, for the sheer callousness and brutality of herding, trapping and locking the victims in the two houses, thereby rendering them helpless in the ensuing inferno, and for the degree of pain and suffering inflicted on the victims as they were burnt alive. In the all too long, sad and wretched history of man's inhumanity to man, the Pionirska Street and Bikavac fires must rank high
As the Guardian reports, Lukic was heavily involved in organized crime after the Bosnian conflict ended in 1995, in addition to providing protection for Radovan Karadzic whilst he was still at large. When in 2003 Lukic sensed that the international authorities investigating his crimes were closing in on him, he fled to Latin America and it was in Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina, where he was eventually captured in 2005.
According to the BBC Sredoje Lukic gave himself up to the Bosnian Serb authorities a month after his cousin was apprehended.
Bosnia, or Bosnia and Herzegovina as it is now known, still has many wounds left to heal. In essence It is a country of two halves. The Bosnian Muslims, Bosniaks as they are known, and Bosnian Croats are primarily found in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina whilst the Serbs are the major ethnic group in the Republika Srpska. But if wounds are to be healed then those on all sides, like the Lukic cousins, who were responsible for "widespread and systematic attacks on the civilian population", as a prosecutor at The Hague said of the actions of the Lukics, must be brought to justice.
More about Bosnia, Serbia, Hague
More news from
Latest News
Top News