UN court gives Bosnian killer second chance

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The Independent Online
THE HAGUE (AP) - Resentencing a remorseful Bosnian Croat to five years for killing at least 70 unarmed Muslims, UN judges said they hoped the case would encourage other war criminals to surrender.

Drazen Erdemovic, 26, blinked back tears as Yugoslav war crimes tribunal judges halved his previous 10-year sentence for the 1995 massacre.

Though Erdemovic faced up to life imprisonment, the judges said the young father was "reformable" and "should be given a chance to start his life afresh while he is still young enough to do so."

With two years he has already spent in custody subtracted from the sentence, Erdemovic will be freed in three years.

He was originally sentenced to 10 years in November 1996 after pleading guilty to a crime against humanity for gunning down about 70 Muslims on a collective farm who were taken prisoner after rebel Serbs overran Srebrenica in July 1995.

He appealed the sentence and pleaded guilty in January to a lesser charge of a war crime for the same killings.