Serbian court convicts 4 'Scorpions' in Bosnian murders

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A Serbian court convicted four former paramilitary police officers Tuesday in the killings of six Bosnian Muslims from Srebrenica, where a massacre of thousands of Muslims took place the same week, in July 1995.

The verdict -- the first conviction in a Serbian court for crimes that rights officials clearly link to Srebrenica -- came in a 15-month case prompted by a video that appeared in 2005, showing the Serbian security officers taking six Muslim prisoners from the back of a truck in Trnovo, tormenting them and then killing them.

The judge, Gordana Bozilovic-Petrovic, said the killers had acted against defenseless civilians, "showing off their power and showing no remorse." But she said there was no evidence directly linking the six killings to the massacre in Srebrenica, 145 kilometers, or 90 miles, away, where nearly 8,000 Muslim men and boys were killed in the worst massacre in Europe since World War II.

The judge sentenced both the commander of the unit, called the Scorpions, and his assistant, to 20 years in prison, the maximum. The one defendant who had pleaded guilty was sentenced to 13 years. A fourth defendant got 5 years and a fifth was freed.

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