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First female soldier convicted for war crimes in Bosnia

posted 30 Apr 2012, 08:12 by Mpelembe   [ updated 30 Apr 2012, 08:13 ]

Former Bosnian Muslim soldier Rasema Handanovic becomes first woman to be convicted of war crimes by Bosnian Court .

A Bosnian Muslim woman was jailed on Monday (April 30), for the wartime murders of Croat civilians and prisoners of war, in the country's first conviction of a woman for crimes committed during the 1992-95 conflict.
Rasema Handanovic, 39, a single mother and naturalised U.S. citizen, had pleaded guilty to the killings of six Bosnian Croats during an attack on the southern village of Trusina in April 1993.

The judge, Jasmina Kosovic, said Handanovic had been the victim of a wartime rape before committing the Trusina crimes and had lost several family members in the conflict.

Handanovic was sentenced to five and a half years in prison, after she struck a plea bargain and agreed to testify against six other members of the "Zulfikar" special unit of the Bosnian army which carried out the attack.

"In accordance with the agreement proposed sentence was between 5 and 6 years of imprisonment what has been accepted by the court who sentenced her to 5 years and 6 months. The attack on the village of Trusina happened on April 16, 1993 when 22 persons were killed, of which 18 were civilians, four HVO soldiers who surrendered themselves and more people were wounded, including two children," said Boris Grubesic, prosecution spokesperson.

Handanovic was accused of taking part in a firing squad-style execution.

Handanovic was extradited from the United States to Bosnia. She had been living in a suburb of Portland, Oregon.

The only other woman to have been convicted of war crimes during the Bosnian war was Biljana Plavsic, the former Bosnian Serb president who was found guilty of persecution and crimes against humanity by the Hague-based war crimes tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.

Plavsic was sentenced in 2003 to 11 years in jail and released after serving two-thirds of her term.

Two more women are facing war crime's charges at Bosnia's court.

"There are two more ongoing cases with females who were involved in war crimes in Dretelj camp and in war crimes in the area of Posavina," said Grubesic.