Serb gets 20 years for killing of Croatian POWs

/ Source: The Associated Press

Serbia's war-crimes court convicted a Croatian Serb on Tuesday for his role in the 1991 torture and killing of 200 Croatian prisoners at a pig farm during the Balkan conflicts.

Damir Sireta was sentenced after a six-month trial to serve 20 years in prison for war crimes.

He was the 14th former paramilitary convicted for the killings near the eastern Croatian town of Vukovar during Croatia's 1991-95 war for independence from the former Serb-led Yugoslavia — one of the worst massacres of POWs during the Balkan wars of the 1990s.

Serb paramilitary units seized the victims from the Vukovar hospital and took them to a nearby pig farm. They then tortured the POWs before separating them into groups of seven or eight, spraying them with machine-gun fire and dumping their bodies into a mass grave. Those showing signs of life were shot in the head, according to the verdict.

The 13 others convicted were sentenced in March to prison terms of five to 20 years.

Sireta was tried separately after being extradited from Norway, where he had been living since 1998 after his indictment.

The case has been seen as a test of the Serbian judiciary's ability to punish Serbs responsible for atrocities committed during the wars under former President Slobodan Milosevic.

"This verdict represents justice for the victims' families," prosecution spokesman Bruno Vekaric said.

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