War crimes judges have sentenced a Bosnian-Serb General to 20 years in prison for his role in the siege of Sarajevo. Judges found General Stanislav Galic guilty of terrorizing the city's residents through a two-year campaign of shelling and sniping.
This is the first judgment to deal solely with the siege of Sarajevo and the crime of inflicting terror on a population. In reading out the court's findings, Judge Alphons Orie said it was clear to the majority that the attacks against civilians could not have occurred without the will of corps commander General Stanislav Galic.
"It is clear that General Galic, through his orders and by other means acts of facilitation and encouragement, conducted the campaign of attacks," said judge Orie. "He did so with the primary aim to spread terror among the civilian population of Sarajevo."
The judge said that prosecutors proved beyond a reasonable doubt 18 of the 26 sniping incidents they charged and all five of the shellings. That includes the 1994 Sarajevo marketplace shelling in which 60 people were killed and more than 100 injured. It has been a controversial incident, with many Bosnian Serbs saying Muslims shelled themselves to gain world sympathy and get the Bosnian-Serb army in trouble.
But judges, who said they examined new evidence about the marketplace bombing, concluded that the mortar shell that caused the explosion was fired by the Bosnian Serbs. Even if there were incidents where Muslims sometimes fired on themselves, as defense lawyers argued, judges found that that does not excuse the crimes committed against the city's Muslims.
The exact numbers are not known, the tribunal said, but hundreds were killed and thousands injured during, what it called, widespread, systematic and devastating attacks. The judges said no civilian was safe anywhere and that men, women and children were attacked while attending funerals, riding in trams and buses, tending gardens, and shopping.
The court said it was Galic's forces who committed the crimes and the general who controlled their scale and pace. Instead of protecting the population of Sarajevo, the court found, Galic's forces brought terror and destruction on the city.