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Bosnian Serb soldier convicted by UN tribunal to serve jail term in Belgium

Bosnian Serb soldier convicted by UN tribunal to serve jail term in Belgium

A former Bosnian Serb soldier and military policeman convicted by a United Nations war crimes tribunal of torturing and raping Muslim women and girls during the Balkan wars of the 1990s will serve the remainder of his 15-year jail term in Belgium.

The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), which sits in The Hague in the Netherlands, announced today that Dragan Zelenović has been transferred to detention in Belgium.

Mr. Zelenović pleaded guilty last year before the ICTY to seven counts of rape – including gang rape – and torture for his actions in the town of Foca in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1992.

After Bosnian Serb forces took over Foca municipality in April 1992, they took local women and girls to detention facilities, where they were interrogated and subject to brutal beatings, sexual assaults and humiliating and degrading conditions. Other women were detained in houses and apartments used as brothels by the mainly paramilitary soldiers.

In his statement of guilt to the Tribunal, Mr. Zelenović said: “I feel sorry for all the victims who were victimized by anything that I did, and that is why I express from this forum my deepest remorse and regret.”

In October last year the ICTY’s appeals chamber rejected Mr. Zelenović’s appeal against the length of his prison sentence.

Belgium is one of 14 European countries that have signed an agreement with the ICTY to enforce sentences imposed by the Tribunal on convicted individuals, and nearly 40 people either have served or are currently serving their sentence in one of those countries.