UN tribunal upholds 35-year jail term for leader of breakaway Croatian Serb state

8 October 2008

The United Nations war crimes tribunal set up after the Balkan conflicts of the 1990s today upheld a 35-year jail sentence of a former political leader of rebel Serbs in Croatia who was convicted for his role in a campaign of ethnic cleansing.

The appeals chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), which sits in The Hague, reaffirmed the trial chamber’s decision in June last year to find Milan Martić guilty of 16 counts of crimes against humanity or war crimes.

Between 1991 and 1995 Mr. Martić served as president or in other senior positions with the self-proclaimed Croatian Serb entity known as either the Serbian Autonomous Region of Krajina or the Republic of Serbian Krajina.

The ICTY found that Mr. Martić participated in a joint criminal enterprise that aimed to create a unified Serb territory by forcibly removing non-Serbs living in the areas under his control, and the convictions included murder, torture, deportation, persecutions, attacks on civilians and wanton destruction of civilian areas.

The breakaway state lasted from 1991 until 1995, when Croatian forces brought it back under control of Zagreb.

Both defence lawyers and the prosecution appealed against various parts of the findings, and the tribunal rejected nearly all of the grounds and ruled that those grounds it upheld did not warrant a revision of the length of the jail sentence.

Mr. Martić will remain in the detention unit of the ICTY in The Hague until arrangements are finalized for his transfer to the State where he will serve the remainder of his sentence.

News Tracker: Past Stories on This Issue

Leader of breakaway Croatian Serb state convicted and jailed by UN tribunal

The United Nations war crimes tribunal for the former Yugoslavia today sentenced a former political leader of rebel Serbs in Croatia to 35 years’ prison after convicting him for his role in a campaign of ethnic cleansing.