A Serbian ex-police chief has been sentenced to 27 years in prison in connection with the mass murder of more than 700 ethnic Albanians in Kosovo in 1999.
The United Nations tribunal at The Hague in the Netherlands found Vlastimir Djordjevic, 62, guilty of five counts of crimes against humanity, including murder and deportation.
The court ruled that his actions contributed significantly to the campaign of terror against Kosovans.
The case referred to the killings of at least 724 Kosovo Albanians between January and June 1999.
In the large majority of cases the victims, including many women and children, were civilians, who were unarmed and not in any way participating in any form of armed conflict, the court stated.
The court also emphasized that the number of murder charges were only examples and were by no means exhaustive.
Djordjevic said he was not guilty since he could exert no control over his Serb forces.
I did not have reason to know that my subordinates committed widespread crimes against the Albanian population, he stated.
However, Judge Kevin Parker of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) responded to his assertion that the police commander’s participation in the joint criminal enterprise was crucial to its success.
The Chamber is satisfied that the [conduct of the accused] contributed significantly to campaign of terror and extreme violence by Serbian forces against Kosovo Albanians, which had a purpose of changing the demographic composition of Kosovo, the judge declared.
In addition, Djordjevic was found culpable for the forced deportations of at least another 200,000 people and that he played a key role in covering up the murdering by moving the bodies to Serbia for burial in mass graves.
Djordjevic, a former associate of the late Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, is now the sixth person to be convicted at ICTY over atrocities in Kosovo.