Yesterday the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) handed down sentences in the cases of two former Bosnian Serb officials convicted of crimes against humanity and war crimes. Mićo Stanišić and Stojan Župljanin were both sentenced to 22 years in prison having been convicted of the following charges: "persecution, a crime against humanity, through the underlying acts of killings; torture, cruel treatment, and inhumane acts; unlawful detention; establishment and perpetuation of inhumane living conditions; forcible transfer and deportation; plunder of property; wanton destruction of towns and villages, including destruction or wilful damage done to institutions dedicated to religion and other cultural buildings; and the imposition and maintenance of restrictive and discriminatory measures."
Both men were also convicted of murder and torture, which are classified as war crimes. Župljanin, but not Stanišić, was convicted of extermination as an element in the crimes against humanity.
The charges stemmed from the defendants' efforts to establish an ethnically pure Bosnian Serb state (Republika Srpska) following the breakup of Yugoslavia. The resulting conflict in Bosnia, which lasted from March 1992 to December 1995, claimed approximately 150,000 lives. During the war, scenes reminiscent of those in Nazi concentration camps were played out in various locations across Bosnia as a genocidal policy of "ethnic cleansing" was implemented by the Bosnian Serbs and, on occasion, other parties to the conflict.
To date, the ICTY has indicted 161 people and has discharged cases involving 136. Sixty-nine people have been convicted of crimes; 18 have been acquitted; 13 have been transferred to other courts for trial; 36 cases have been terminated without a verdict (as, for example, in the case against former Serb president Slobodan Milosevic, who died before the conclusion of his trial) or have had charges withdrawn; and 25 cases are ongoing.