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Leader of Sarajevo siege gets 33-year term

A U.N. court convicted Gen. Dragomir Milosevic of crimes including murder and inhumane acts.

THE HAGUE, Netherlands - A Bosnian Serb general who ordered the relentless shelling, sniping, and indiscriminate terror that rained down on Sarajevo during the final phase of a 44-month siege was convicted yesterday of war crimes and sentenced to 33 years in prison.

Citing testimony from survivors of snipers' bullets and makeshift missiles, the U.N. Yugoslav war-crimes tribunal convicted Gen. Dragomir Milosevic of murder, inhumane acts, and waging a campaign of terror for orchestrating the last 15 months of the 1992-95 barrage against the Bosnian capital.

"There was no safe place in Sarajevo," Presiding Judge Patrick Robinson said, reading from the judgment. "One could be killed and injured anywhere and anytime."

Milosevic, 65, sat silently listening to a summary of the 332-page judgment, then stood stoically as Robinson pronounced sentence. He had denied all charges, arguing that Sarajevo had been a battleground and that his troops had been carrying out legitimate military operations.

The horror of the siege was played out in front of a global audience as television images showed shells slamming into apartment buildings and terrified shoppers huddling for cover behind slow-moving U.N. armored cars.

Stanislav Galic, Milosevic's predecessor as commander of the Bosnian Serb Army's Sarajevo Romanija Corps, whose 18,000 troops encircled and bombarded the city, is serving a life term.

However, the Bosnian Serb army chief, Gen. Ratko Mladic, is evading arrest for his overall command of the Sarajevo campaign and other atrocities, including the massacre in Srebrenica. He is thought to be hiding in or near the Serbian capital, Belgrade.

In Sarajevo, survivors said the 33-year sentence - one of the most severe handed down by the U.N. court - was too short.

"Not enough," said Esad Pozder, 60, a Muslim who survived the 1995 Sarajevo market massacre, when 43 civilians were killed and 84 injured by a mortar shell fired from Serb positions. Among the victims was Pozder's sister.

"Many will not be happy with that sentence," he said.

One expert testified that an average of 1,000 shells a day bombarded Sarajevo from 1993 to 1995, with a slight lull during a cease-fire in 1994.

Milosevic is not related to former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, who died in 2006 before his genocide trial could be completed.

Gen. Milosevic pioneered the use of makeshift missiles called modified air bombs - airplane bombs that were attached to rockets so they could be launched from the ground but that could not be accurately directed. The use of such indiscriminate weapons in a civilian area is illegal.