BELGRADE - Agence France-Presse
Former soldiers from Serbia, Bosnia and Croatia have been quietly making sporadic contact through a mediator in a bid to prevent a repeat of the brutal war in the 1990s that left more than 130,000 dead in the ex-Yugoslavia. AFP Photo
Serbia's war crimes court today jailed 14 former Yugoslav soldiers and paramilitaries over the 1991 killings of 70 Croat civilians during the war in Croatia.
They were sentenced to between four and 20 years over war crimes in the village of Lovas, among the worst of Croatia's 1991-1995 war, Serbian war crimes prosecutor's spokesman Bruno Vekaric told AFP.
The court said it was proven in the trial launched in 2008 that they were guilty of "killing, mistreating and torturing" civilians.
Presiding judge Olivera Andjelkovic said the defendants had "ordered and executed attacks on Croat nationals" in the eastern village of Lovas, killing 45 civilians in their homes or makeshift prisons in October 1991.
Twenty-two were killed by being forced to walk through a mine field, while another three were killed elsewhere.
With the trial, "Serbia has sent a message of apology to all victims of war crimes in the former Yugoslavia", said Vekaric.
The verdict proved that Serbian authorities would not forget the crimes and victims of the war, he said, adding that the prosecution was satisfied with the verdict.
Croatia's 1991 declaration of independence sparked a four-year war with Belgrade-backed rebel Serbs. An estimated 20,000 people died in the conflict.