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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

UN Court Convicts Serb Leader

THE HAGUE -- A Yugoslav war crimes tribunal Tuesday convicted a leader of Croatia's rebel Serbs of murder, torture and persecution and sentenced him to 35 years in prison for a brutal ethnic cleansing campaign against non-Serbs.

Judges said Milan Martic, 52, was responsible for hundreds of murders from 1991, when Serbs in the Krajina region of southern Croatia rebelled and set up a breakaway state until 1995, when Croatian forces recaptured the area.

He also was convicted of ordering two days of indiscriminate cluster bomb shelling of the Croatian capital, Zagreb, in May 1995 that killed at least seven civilians and injured more than 200.

Most of the crimes were "committed against elderly people, persons held in detention and civilians. The special vulnerability of these victims adds to the gravity of the crimes," said the court's presiding judge, Bakone Moloto.

Martic, who made no comment throughout the hearing, showed no emotion as Moloto read out the verdict.

The three-judge United Nations panel said Martic was deeply involved in a criminal plot with other Serbian leaders, including President Slobodan Milosevic, to carve out an ethnically pure "greater Serbia" as Yugoslavia fell apart that would include about one-third of Croatia.