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Swedish court jails Serb over Kosovo war crimes

AFP/The Local · 21 Jan 2012, 08:59

Published: 21 Jan 2012 08:59 GMT+01:00

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Milic Martinovic, a 34-year-old Serb arrested in Sweden in April 2010, was found guilty of aggravated crimes against humanity, including murder, attempted murder and aggravated arson, in connection with the massacre, the Stockholm District Court said.

"Anything less than life imprisonment is out of the question," the court said in a statement.

People serving life sentences in Sweden have in recent years spent an average of around 21 years behind bars.

Once he has served his time, Martinovic will be expelled from Sweden and banned from ever returning, the court said, adding that he had also been ordered to pay damages of between 150,000 and 200,000 kronor ($22,000-30,000) to 10 of the 14 plaintiffs in the case.

Martinovic had been a member of the special PJP police force that entered Cuska on May 14th, 1999 in search of "terrorists."

Armed and in uniform, he was among the troops who took a large number of people captive, killed 29 of the 40 people murdered there that day, attempted to kill three others, burned down houses and manhandled civilians, the court said.

"The accused is through his actions also guilty of serious violations of the Geneva Convention and common law," it said.

While court documents do not show that Martinovic personally pulled the trigger, they describe for instance how he repeatedly stood guard as his comrades shot and killed civilians and how he fired at the ground and forced residents to hand over gold and other valuables.

"Milic Martinovic participated in the operation with the understanding that the aim was to murder and rob civilian Kosovo Albanians," according to the court documents.

Prosecutor Lars Hedvall told the TT news agency he was "pleased that the court has largely followed my views."

Defence attorney Bertil Schultz was however critical of the verdict, insisting the evidence in the case was weak, and said he expected his client to appeal.

Story continues below…

The 1998-1999 conflict left around 13,000 dead and forced hundreds of thousands to flee Kosovo for several European countries. Most of the victims were ethnic Albanians.

The war between Serbian security forces and separatist ethnic Albanians in the southern Serbian province was brought to an abrupt end in mid-1999 when an 11-week NATO bombing campaign ousted the Belgrade-controlled forces.

Kosovo declared independence in February 2008, which many countries have recognised but not Serbia.

AFP/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

13:20 January 21, 2012 by byke
Is it ethically correct for Sweden to have judged this case given the remote access to information and the fact the crimes committed were outside of swedish jurisdiction?

Why wasn't this man extradited to face charges instead?
15:42 January 21, 2012 by Dave N
Are you sure he is a Serb? I only ask because usually when foreign criminals and terrorists are mentioned in the Local, they are always called "Swedes."
22:27 January 21, 2012 by TheWatchman
@ Dave N

Especially that Swedish man who was set up by Mossad as he claimed.

In either case, I'm glad that this man wherever he comes from is being prosecuted for his crimes.
00:49 January 22, 2012 by jpmaher
Send some Swedish cops to the Muslim no-go zones in Malmö. Then sentence Swedish cops to life imprisonment when they defend Sweden aginst the jihadis that Swedish cops and firemen are too afraid of to enter their Sweden-free bit of Sweden. That "Swedish" judge should be on a bench in Jeddah.
15:33 January 22, 2012 by gabeltoon
Just be thankful this criminal is behind bars.This kind of criminal always finds ways to dupe the authorities to save their skin.You are not the only country that this happens to.
18:43 January 22, 2012 by TruthSquad
But the dilemma is: How to put NATO 'behind bars', re previous comment by gabeltoon. USA's NATO has been 'duping' the West for quite a few years. We're not paying attention to the truth about what's going on in Europe. In case no one knows, immediately after bombing the sovereign country of Serbia for 78 days-nights, USA-NATO installed a huge military base in Kosovo, Camp Bondsteel. That's what it was all about, and nothing to do with Milic Martinovic, and nothing to do with NATO's humanitarian concerns.
22:05 January 22, 2012 by ctinej
Why waste millions of dollars keeping him in jail. Return him to the victim's survivors. They will save everyone a lot of trouble and money.
01:08 January 23, 2012 by TruthSquad
Reading the prior comment, how does the world deal with NATO? They're the ones who dropped poison-laden bombs on a sovereign country. There are many victims. Perhaps Martinovic is also a victim, i.e. a victim of USA-NATO's dictates? Ponder that for awhile. It would be best if truth would be given its day in court.
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