Ahead of Karadzic Rally Srebrenica War Crimes Verdicts Handed Down

With ultra-nationalist Serbs gathering in Belgrade on Tuesday for a rally in support of war crimes suspect Radovan Karadzic, a Bosnian court sentenced seven Bosnian Serbs for long jail sentences for their role in the Srebrenica massacre.

The timing was auspicious. With thousands of Serbian ultra-nationalists planning to march in Belgrade on Tuesday evening, the Bosnian war crimes court in Sarajevo passed down verdicts on 11 men charged with participating in the 1995 Srebrenica massacre.

Thousands of posters depicting war crimes suspect Radovan Karadzic are on display in Belgrade on Tuesday in preparation for a mass rally in his support.

Thousands of posters depicting war crimes suspect Radovan Karadzic are on display in Belgrade on Tuesday in preparation for a mass rally in his support.

Seven of those charged in the case, which has been on trial for two years, received long sentences ranging from 38 to 42 years, while four were acquitted. All of those in the dock had been members of the Bosnian Serb police or military forces -- both of which were involved in the 1995 slaughter which saw some 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys killed when Srebrenica was overrun while UN forces there to protect the so-called "safe haven" did nothing.

Those convicted on Tuesday were charged with having taken part in killing some 1,000 Bosniaks -- as Bosnian Muslims are called -- who had been herded into a warehouse near a small village called Kravice. Some of those convicted sprayed the building with machine gun fire while another tossed in grenades.

"The defendants knew that by killing the Bosnian Muslim men, they participated in the permanent extermination of Bosnian Muslims from Srebrenica," Judge Hilmo Vucinic said according to the BBC.

The verdicts -- the first of their kind from the Bosnian war crimes court -- come just a week after the arrest of Radovan Karadzic, the Bosnian Serb leader who stands accused of masterminding the Srebrenica massacre as well as the extended wartime siege of Sarajevo which ultimately cost the lives of some 10,000 people. Karadzic had been in hiding for over a decade following an indictment by the United Nations war crimes tribunal in The Hague. He remains in Serb hands, but negotiations on his extradition are ongoing. Fellow wartime leader Ratko Mladic, who has also been indicted by The Hague, remains at large.

Thousands of Karadzic supporters were gathering in Belgrade on Tuesday evening to support a man they regard as a Serbian hero. Karadzic posters are hanging across the Serbian capital and buses are bringing in thousands more for the "all Serb" rally.

"This rally will be a symbol of resistance, a symbol of the strength of those who love freedom more than anything," said Aleksandar Vucic of the nationalist Radical Party, according to Reuters. "We'll continue resisting dictatorship in Serbia, we'll continue raising the question of whose paramilitary forces arrested Radovan Karadzic, how and why."



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