(AFP) – Aug 21, 2012
THE HAGUE — UN prosecutors in the Yugoslav war crimes court called Tuesday for a life sentence against former Bosnian Serb general Zdravko Tolimir for his role in the 1995 Srebrenica massacre.
"There is only one sentence for this crime and that is life in prison," Peter McCloskey said in closing arguments before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague.
Tolimir, 63, is accused of committing genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity during Bosnia's 1992-95 war which claimed 100,000 lives and left 2.2 million others homeless.
He faces eight counts including murder and forcible deportation.
Prosecutors said the former intelligence chief -- who reported directly to Bosnian Serb army chief Ratko Mladic -- was part of a grand scheme to murder thousands of Muslim men and boys and expel thousands of women and children at Srebrenica in 1995 in order to create a "mono-ethnic Serb state."
Almost 8,000 Muslim men and boys were murdered in July 1995 in the "safe area" when Dutch UN peacekeepers were overrun by Mladic's forces.
It was deemed the worst atrocity on European soil since World War II.
During the trial, prosecutors said Mladic relied on Tolimir to "carry out the slow strangling of the Srebrenica and Zepa enclaves" to create conditions which would force the Muslim population "to give up hope of survival."
Said McCloskey on Tuesday about Tolimir, whom he called "very bright, very impressive": "He deliberately chose loyalty to Mladic, loyalty to the cause... over his duty to his God to say no, and his duty under law to stop."
"By choosing Mladic over the law, he lost his humanity," McCloskey added.
"He represents... this unique genocide that happened in Srebrenica and he carries that with him personally and will forever."
Tolimir has pleaded not guilty and has chosen to conduct his own defence.
His trial started in February 2010, with the prosecution calling 126 witnesses and Tolimir four in his defence.
Arrested in May 2007 in Bosnia-Hercegovina, Tolimir had seen his trial delayed several times due to ill health.
Mladic, also dubbed "the Butcher of Bosnia," was arrested in Serbia last year, and now faces 11 counts before the same Hague-based court, including for the Srebrenica massacre.
Ex-general Radislav Krstic, another Mladic aide and the first person to be convicted of genocide by the court, was sentenced to 35 years in jail in 2004, including for the Srebrenica massacre. He was transferred to a British jail that year to serve his sentence.
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