Sarajevo accused gets 45 years in jail

Sarajevo accused gets 45 years in jail

A Montenegrin warlord was jailed for 45 years on Friday for murder, rape and torture of non-Serb civilians in Sarajevo in the Bosnian war, receiving the longest sentence handed down so far by the Bosnian war crimes court.

Veselin Vlahovic, nicknamed Batko, was found guilty of the murders of 31 people, rapes of at least 13 women and torture and robbery of dozens of civilians in Grbavica and Vraca, Serb-occupied areas of Sarajevo, in 1992, said presiding judge Zoran Bozic. Vlahovic, known as the “Monster of Grbavica”, carried out “horrid, cruel and manifold criminal acts”, Bozic said.

Prosecutors compiled a 65-count indictment against Vlahovic, the most extensive ever for crimes committed in the Bosnian 1992-95 war. The 45-year sentence is the maximum that can be given for such crimes.

Bozic said Vlahovic, a member of a paramilitary group allied to the Bosnian Serb army, often demanded ransoms of money or gold for his captives.

“Victims who could not pay for their lives would be typically taken to a recognizable location on Trebevic hill and shot in the head,” Bozic added.

He described how Vlahovic raped a seven-months pregnant woman in front of her young daughter in their Grbavica apartment, and in another incident raped a woman and then forced her to watch him rape her mother.

Vlahovic, 44, was detained in 2010 in Spain and delivered to the Bosnian court. He had served a jail sentence after the Bosnian war for an armed robbery in Montenegro.

Bosnian Serbs, backed by the Serb-led Yugoslav army, launched an “ethnic cleansing” campaign in April 1992 in which thousands of Bosnian Muslims and Croats were killed, held captive or driven from their homes.

Within months Serb forces had captured almost three-quarters of Bosnia and encircled its capital Sarajevo, where more than 10,000 people died in a 3-1/2-year siege.

More than 100,000 people were killed in the course of the 1992-95 war. The Bosnian war crimes court was set up in Sarajevo in 2005 to reduce the workload of the United Nations war crimes tribunal for former Yugoslavia in The Hague.