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Bosnian Serb Guilty of Genocide

December 15, 1999

MUNICH, Germany (AP) _ A judge convicted a Bosnia Serb Wednesday of genocide and murder for ordering the shooting deaths of six Bosnian Muslims, and sentenced him to life in prison.

Djurdard Kusljic, 44, was acting as the police chief in the Bosnian town of Vrbanjci when he ordered the deaths in June 1992, the onset of Bosnia’s 3 1/2-year war, the court said.

Presiding Judge Raimund Kraemer said Kusljic acted out of conviction when he participated in the systematic ethnic cleansing of Bosnian Muslims. Until the summer of 1992, Kusljic led a ``well-ordered, crime-free life.″

``The defendant willing and knowingly acted to realize Serb policies,″ Kraemer said.

Kusljic also was accused of ordering the deaths of 18 Muslims rounded up in nearby Dabovci in August 1992, but the court said it had insufficient evidence to convict him of those murders.

The former math and physics teacher entered Germany as a refugee in 1993. He was not arrested until 1998 after survivors identified him as Vrbanjci’s police chief.

Kusljic pleaded not guilty and denied ever having been police chief. He said the conviction was based on ``politics, not justice″.

Federal prosecutors said they filed charges in Germany because the Yugoslav war crimes tribunal in the Netherlands was not interested in pursuing the case, and Bosnia itself has not asked for his extradition.

Germany’s highest trial court has ruled that German courts could have jurisdiction in such cases.

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