THE HAGUE -- A U N tribunal sentenced the former speaker of the Bosnian Serb parliament yesterday to 27 years in prison for war crimes, but acquitted him of the harsher charge of genocide.
Momcil o Krajisnik, 61, one of the highest ranking politicians in wartime Bosnia, was convicted of five counts of war crimes, including persecution, extermination, and the murder of Muslims and Croats in the early stages of the 1992-1995 Bosnian war, which left more than 200,000 dead.
In its verdict, the court said Krajisnik ``knew about, and intended, the mass detention and expulsion of civilians. He had the power to intervene, but he was not concerned with the predicament of detained and expelled persons."
Presiding judge Alphons Orie said, however, the judges were unconvinced that the Bosnian Serb leadership had deliberately intended to destroy the non-Serb population -- a key element in winning a conviction for genocide, which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.
Two remaining key suspects indicted for genocide, former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic and former army chief General Ratko Mladic, remain fugitives.
Victims of the war decried the sentence as too lenient. ``It's a minimal punishment for what he has done," said Zumra Sehomerovic, of the Mothers of Srebrenica association, made up of women who lost children in the 1995 massacre of up to 8,000 Muslims in the eastern Bosnian town of Srebrenica.
Serbs in Bosnia-Herzegovina also criticized the verdict, saying it was too harsh.
The court has ruled in other cases that genocide occurred at Srebrenica -- the worst civilian massacre in Europe since World War II. But Krajisnik's case covered only the early stages of the war when ethnic Serbs seized two-thirds of the territory in Bosnia and evicted non-Serbs.