The United Nations war crimes tribunal sentenced six Bosnian Croat wartime leaders to lengthy prison sentences on Wednesday for the murder, rape and expulsion of Muslims from Bosnia during the breakup of Yugoslavia in the 1990s.
The top defendant, Jadranko Prlic, was sentenced to 25 years in jail. He had been Prime Minister of the self-proclaimed Herceg-Bosna state that Croats carved out in central and southern Bosnia during the 1992-95 ethnic conflict. The five others, including the interior minister ,received prison terms of 10 to 20 years.
A majority of the three-judge panel also said the late Croatian President, Franjo Tudjman, was a key member of a plan to permanently remove Muslims from territory claimed by Bosnian Croats and create a Croat ministate in Bosnia with the aim of later uniting it with his country to create a greater Croatia, or leaving it as a separate independent state. Tudjman died in 1999 and was never indicted by the Hague-based court.
While many cases at the 20-year-old tribunal focus on crimes by Serbs, the case that ended on Wednesday highlighted vicious crimes by Croats, who are Catholics, targeting Muslims.