UN war crimes tribunal sentences Bosnian Serb general to life in jail

30 November 2006 – The United Nations war crimes tribunal for the former Yugoslavia today sentenced a former Bosnian Serb general to life in prison after dismissing an appeal against his convictions for his role in the long siege of the city of Sarajevo during the early 1990s.

The appeals chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), sitting in The Hague, upheld prosecutors’ separate appeal against the original sentence of 20 years for Stanislav Galic, a commander in the Bosnian Serb army, over the campaign of daily shelling and sniping against Sarajevo’s residents.

It is the first time that the ICTY’s appeal chamber has imposed the maximum penalty.

A majority of judges dismissed all 19 grounds of appeal by Mr. Galic against his convictions, stating that there was ample evidence to demonstrate that the main purpose of the attacks during the siege was to spread terror among Sarajevo’s civilian population.

In December 2003 the ICTY’s trial chamber found Mr. Galic guilty of one charge of violating the laws or customs of war by spreading terror among a civilian population and four charges of crimes against humanity, for murder and inhumane acts other than murder.

Those judges had agreed with prosecutors that the attacks against Sarajevo residents between September 1992 and August 1994 were not in response to any military threat and took place mainly in daylight when it was clear that the victims – including children – were engaged in everyday activities, from shopping to tending gardens to riding a tram or bus.

One of the most notorious attacks occurred in February 1994, when a mortal shell fired by the Bosnian Serb forces exploded in a Sarajevo marketplace, killing 60 people and injuring more than 100 others.

Upholding the prosecution appeal on sentence, the appeals chamber found that the original sentence of 20 years “was so unreasonable and plainly unjust, in that it underestimated the gravity of Galic’s criminal conduct.”

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