Bosnian Serb Genocide Convict Dies in The Hague

9. February 2016.00:00
The former intelligence chief of the Bosnian Serb Army’s Main Headquarters, Zdravko Tolimir, who was convicted of the genocide of Bosniaks from Srebrenica, died in the Hague Tribunal’s detention unit.

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Tolimir, who was waiting to be sent to serve his life sentence after being found guilty last year of taking part in the Srebrenica genocide, died on Monday at the age of 67.

The cause of his death has not yet been made public.

In April last year, the UN-backed war crimes court found Tolimir guilty of involvement in genocide against thousands of Bosniak men and boys from Srebrenica after the UN-protected ‘safe area’ was overrun by Bosnian Serb forces in July 1995.

However the Hague Tribunal’s appeals chamber acquitted him of genocide in Zepa, another UN-protected ‘safe area’ at the time.

Presiding judge Theodor Meron said at the sentencing hearing that the life sentence was necessary because of the gravity of Tolimir’s crimes.

During the original trial, the presiding judge said that Tolimir was “the right-hand man of the Bosnian Serb commander Ratko Mladic and sometimes knew more than Mladic himself”.

“The accused had knowledge and was aware of the genocidal intent of the Bosnian Serb leadership and was responsible for genocide,” the judge said.

But Tolimir insisted at the original trial that he was simply conducting an operation against “terrorist groups”.

After the signing of the Dayton peace agreement in 1995, which ended the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Tolimir was briefly an adviser to Bosnian Serb President Biljana Plavsic, who was also convicted of war crimes.

He then retired from the army and was subsequently indicted in 2005. He was detained in 2007 after having been on the run for two years.

Tolimir had been in The Hague since June 2007.

Several defendants have died during the course of their trials in The Hague, among them former Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic.

Erna Mačkić

This post is also available in: Bosnian