THE HAGUE (Reuters) - The Yugoslavia war crimes tribunal sentenced Bosnian Serb general Zdravko Tolimir to life in prison on Wednesday for his role in the 1995 Srebrenica massacre, Europe’s worst atrocity since World War Two.
U.N. judges said Tolimir, 64, an intelligence chief and close aide to Bosnian Serb military commander Ratko Mladic, planned and oversaw the killing of 8,000 Muslim men and boys after the town of Srebenica was overrun in July.
The massacre was part of a campaign of ethnic cleansing carried out by nationalist Serbs determined to carve out a Serb state in Bosnia by removing all of the multi-ethnic province’s Muslims and Croats. The 1992-95 war killed 100,000 people.
“The crimes were massive in scale, severe in intensity and devastating in effect,” presiding judge Christoph Flugge said when reading the verdict at the Hague-based tribunal.
He said Tolimir had been close to Mladic and was referred by witnesses as his “right-hand man and eyes and ears.”
Tolimir was found guilty of genocide, conspiring to commit genocide, violations of the laws and customs of wars and crimes against humanity including murder, persecution and exterminations of non-Muslims.
He was arrested in June 2007 on the border between Serbia and Bosnia’s Serb Republic and is thought by security experts to have helped Mladic evade arrest until then.
Mladic was eventually captured in Serbia last year after 16 years on the run and is now standing trial in The Hague for the Srebrenica massacre and other alleged war crimes.
Reporting by Ivana Sekularac; Editing by Mark Heinrich