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Bosnian Serb Sentenced for Massacre Role

December 11, 2003

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands (AP) _ An international court sentenced a Bosnian Serb colonel on Wednesday to 17 years in prison for leading one of two brigades responsible for the worst massacre in Europe since World War II.

Col. Dragan Obrenovic had pleaded guilty to crimes against humanity for his role in the slaughter of more than 7,000 men and boys in Srebrenica, Bosnia in July 1995.

Obrenovic was acting commander of the Zvornik Brigade, one of two that carried out the bulk of the killings over a week as the U.N. safe haven of Srebrenica fell in the closing days of Bosnia’s 3 1/2 year war.

Obrenovic, 40, stood with downcast eyes as Liu Daqun of China, presiding judge of the U.N. war crimes tribunal in The Hague, read the sentence.

Liu said the court considered Obrenovic’s remorse, his cooperation with the tribunal, and his conduct before the war as factors easing the severity of the sentence, which was 10 years shorter than the tribunal imposed last week against a lower-ranking officer, Capt. Momir Nikolic.

``Dragan Obrenovic spent most of those fateful days in the battlefield, but he was aware of the larger murder operation taking place,″ Liu said, adding that he bears responsibility for not stopping his men or punishing them afterward.

Liu said Obrenovic’s sentence ``should not be interpreted as a dismissal of the gravity″ of what happened at Srebrenica, but Obrenovic ``did not conceive of the murder operation″ and his guilt was not as great as others.

Obrenovic pleaded guilty in May to one count of persecution as a crime against humanity and then testified against two co-defendants. In exchange, prosecutors dropped four counts of murder, extermination and complicity in genocide and recommended a 15-20 year sentence.

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