Europe

Zdravko Tolimir: Bosnian Serb intelligence chief at Srebrenica

Zdravko Tolimir seen here waiting for his verdict in Dec 2012 Image copyright AFP
Image caption Zdravko Tolimir was convicted in 2012 at The Hague and his sentence was upheld in April last year

Zdravko Tolimir, a close aide to Bosnian Serb commander Ratko Mladic during the Bosnian War, has died in his cell less than a year after his conviction for genocide was upheld by UN judges at The Hague,

The former general was found guilty of genocide for his role in the 1995 Srebrenica massacre, the worst atrocity in Europe since World War Two.

Conducting his own defence, Gen Tolimir described Srebrenica - in which about 8,000 unarmed Bosniak (Bosnian Muslim) men and boys were slaughtered - as an operation "against terrorist groups".

He was put on trial at The Hague after being arrested in Bosnia in May 2007.

Intelligence role

During the 1992-95 war, Gen Tolimir was in charge of intelligence and security for the Bosnian Serb army and reported directly to Gen Mladic.

He was accused of knowingly participating in the forced expulsion of Bosniaks from the Srebrenica and Zepa enclave, in the knowledge that "individual killings would occur as a result of the joint criminal enterprise".

"It was his men... who were at the detention and execution and burial sites, making sure that murder operation did its evil work until the last bullet was fired and the last body buried," the prosecution said.

Although he succeeded in reversing some of the judgements on appeal, the genocide and war crimes convictions were upheld in April 2015.

He was also tried for the cruel and inhumane treatment of Bosniak civilians who were detained at Bratunac and Zvornik, as well as the destruction and theft of Bosniak property.

The tribunal said that Gen Tolimir had helped disable UN troops during the Bosnian Serb attack on Srebrenica by lying to Unprofor, the UN contingent in Bosnia at the time.

However, Serbia's former ambassador to the UN, Pavle Jevremovic, disputed the tribunal's account of Gen Tolimir's role.

He told the BBC that Gen Tolimir was "never considered to be a notorious sort of a character regarding the transgressions of international humanitarian law".

Post-war career

Gen Tolimir was born in November, 1948 in Glamoc, Bosnia-Herzegovina.

In 1993-96, he served as deputy commander for intelligence and security in the Bosnian Serb army.

After the signing of the Dayton peace accords in 1995, he served as Bosnian military representative to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).

From November 1996 to January 1997 he was an adviser to Biljana Plavsic, the former president of Republika Srpska. He then retired from the army.

In February 2005 the Hague tribunal indicted him for war crimes.

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