Protesters gather in centre of the northern Bosnian town of Banja Luka, Republika Srpska, on April 20, 2022, during a rally to defend Republika Srpska , the Bosnian Serb entity. AFP
Sakib Mahmuljin, 69, was tried for his role at the top of the command chain of foreign fighters that executed more than 50 Bosnian Serb prisoners of war in Vozuca and Zavidovici in the northeast of the country.
Mahmuljin was at the time commander of the 3rd corps of the Bosnian army, composed mainly of local Muslims.
The crime was carried out by the "El Moudjahid" unit attached to his corps, which was made up of hundreds of mainly foreign jihadists from Africa, the Middle East, and some Western countries who joined forces with Bosnian Muslims.
Mahmuljin was found guilty by a Sarajevo appeals court of "war crimes against wounded and sick people" and "against prisoners of war", including "murder" and "inhumane treatment".
As a commander, he "failed to prevent" these crimes from being committed and "knew or had every reason to know" that members of this unit were preparing to commit crimes, the court said.
The verdict is final and Mahmuljin can no longer appeal.
This is one of the few convictions of former senior Bosnian military officials for crimes committed by foreign jihadists during the Bosnian intercommunal conflict that killed nearly 100,000 people between 1992 and 1995.
The war crimes in question took place between July and October 1995, in the wake of two Bosnian offensives.
The "El Moudjahid" unit had acquired a sinister reputation because of the crimes committed against Bosnian Serb or Bosnian Croat prisoners of war.
Most of the Islamist fighters left the country after the war under pressure from the United States, which at the end of 1995 hosted the negotiations on the Dayton peace agreement which effectively ended the conflict.