The Hague tribunal ruled that Zdravko Tolimir participated in the 1995 Srebrenica genocide.
By Bedrana Kaletović for Southeast European Times in Sarajevo -- 20/12/12
Ramiza Gurdic, a survivor of the 1995 Srebrenica massacre, watches a live broadcast of the final ruling in the case of former General Zdravko Tolimir on December 12th. [AFP]
The life sentence for Zdravko Tolimir for his participation in the 1995 genocide in Srebrenica has sown hope among victim's families and organisations that the verdict will set a precedent for the trials against other war crime suspects.
"The judgment gives hope that the proceedings against Ratko Mladic will go in a similar direction," said Fadila Memišević, the president of the Society for Threatened Peoples in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH).
Tolimir is the former assistant commander and chief of intelligence for the Bosnian Serb army. He was sentenced by The Hague tribunal on December 12th for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes committed in 1995 after the fall of the enclaves of Srebrenica and Zepa.
The trial is one of 12 proceedings at the tribunal dealing with a range of crimes committed by the Bosnian Serb forces against Bosnian Muslims. Six of these cases have been completed.
The Hague court concluded that Tolimir executed the commands of then Republika Srpska President Radovan Karadzic and General Ratko Mladic to murder all military-capable Bosniaks in Srebrenica.
As the sentence was announced, several members of the Mothers of Srebrenica association did not hide their happiness.
"Life imprisonment is justice for a part of what we have experienced and survived in Srebrenica. This is a small contentment for the families of Srebrenica victims. We hope that Mladic, Karadzic and [Vojislav] Seselj will experience the same fate," member Munira Subasic told SETimes.
"Politics has a major impact on justice regarding criminals, but this is the punishment that we have hoped for. Our loved ones cannot be brought back, they were killed, but the punishment for this genocide should be the highest," Hajra Ćatić, president of the Women of Srebrenica association, told SETimes. Catic's son, Nino, her husband and dozens of male relatives died in the massacre.
The severity of the punishment, and the fact that it was adjudged for genocide, pleased Serbian citizens as well.
"The most important thing is that the verdict shows that the genocide was committed ... We live in a country whose president denies the genocide, but the citizens of Serbia are aware that he is not right. It is our duty to point out that these statements humiliate the victims of Srebrenica, but also Serbian citizens who knows the truth," Stasa Zajovic, Women in Black member, told SETimes.
Since its establishment, the Hague tribunal has indicted 161 people for serious violations of humanitarian law committed on the territory of the former Yugoslavia between 1991 and 2001. Proceedings against 130 individuals have been concluded.