Reuters, December 08, 2005
UN court gives Bosnian Croat 20-year jail term
AMSTERDAM: The Hague war crimes tribunal sentenced a former Bosnian Croat soldier who had pleaded guilty to charges including murder, rape and torture of Muslims to 20 years in jail on Wednesday.
Miroslav Bralo, also known as Cicko, changed his pleas to guilty earlier this year on eight counts of war crimes and human rights abuses committed during the 1993 Muslim-Croat war in central Bosnia.
Judge Iain Bonomy said the crimes were of such a serious and brutal nature that the sentence would have been 25 years if it had not been for mitigating circumstances including Bralo's guilty plea, his remorse and voluntary surrender to the court.
Bralo, 38, belonged to a Bosnian Croat special forces unit known as the Jokers which attacked Muslim villages in Bosnia in 1993. It subsequently imprisoned civilians and forced them to dig trenches and serve as "human shields".
Bralo repeatedly raped a Muslim woman, who was kept prisoner for about two months and also made Muslim prisoners perform Catholic rituals and murdered others.
Bralo, who surrendered to the tribunal last November, pleaded not guilty to the original indictment issued in 1995 which included nine counts of grave breaches of the Geneva conventions and 12 of violations of laws and customs of war.