Bosnia jails first female war crime convict

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

This file image shows Sarajevo apartment buildings damaged in the conflict.

A court in Bosnia has jailed the nation's first female war crimes convict. Rasema Handanović, 39, admitted six killings in the village of Trusina in 1993.

Only one other woman has been convicted of crimes relating to the 1992-5 conflict in Bosnia, Bosnian Serb ex-president Biljana Plavšić. Plavšić was jailed for eleven years by an international court in The Hague, Netherlands in 2003 and later released.

Judge Jasmina Kosović noted mitigating conditions for Handanović: She had expressed remorse for the victims, she had co-operated and given testimony for use against others in the attack, she was a war rape victim, and she had lost family in the fighting. Handanović received a five-and-one-half-years prison sentence yesterday.

Kosović noted the convict "participated with other members of her unit in the executions of three civilians and three soldiers".

Handanović, now a United States citizen whom Bosnia extradited, was part of a firing squad. The Trusina incident ultimately left eighteen civlians and four prisoners of war dead. She provided evidence against six other members of Zulfikar, a special unit within the Bosnian and Herzegovinan Army. Handanović had earlier struck a plea bargain.

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