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Bosnian Serb Gets 27 Years for War Crimes

Former Bosnian Serb political leader Momcilo Krajisnik has been sentenced by the Yugoslav war crimes tribunal to 27 years in prison for crimes against humanity committed against Muslims and Croats in the early years of the Bosnian War. The 61-year-old former aid to Radovan Karadzic was acquitted of genocide.

Judges found that the crimes Momcilo Krajisnik committed in 35 Bosnian municipalities - persecution, extermination, murder and deportation - do in fact amount to genocide. But they say prosecutors didn't prove that Krajisnik and other Bosnian Serb leaders had the necessary intent to destroy Bosnia's Muslim and Croat populations, a key component in a genocide conviction. Still, in handing down a 27-year sentence, presiding judge Alphons Orie said Krajisnik played a "crucial" role in the crimes.

"Mr. Krajisnik wanted the Muslim and Croat populations moved out of Bosnian Serb territories in large numbers and accepted the heavy price of suffering, death and destruction was necessary to achieve Serb domination and a viable statehood," he said.

Judges called the suffering of the victims "immense," the consequences of Krajisnik's "brutal" crimes "profound." Krajisnik, a former speaker of the Bosnian Serb parliament and part of the wartime presidency, was a close aide to war crimes suspect Radovan Karadzic.

The former leader of the Bosnian Serbs is still on the run. But prosecutors say the two men together masterminded what is now commonly referred to as ethnic cleansing - first attacking villages and then imprisoning or murdering the non-Serb population.

Throughout his trial, Krajisnik maintained his innocence, saying he never knew about any detention camps or crimes. The Tribunal has so far handed down only two genocide convictions, both in connection to the 1995 mass murders at Srebrenica