U.N. investigators work at a mass grave in Bosnia that is suspected to contain remains of Muslim men fleeing Srebrenica
U.N. investigators work at a mass grave in Bosnia that is suspected to contain remains of Muslim men fleeing Srebrenica
PHOTO: AFP/Getty Images

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NEW: Between 6,000 and 8,000 people were killed in the massacre, the U.N. says

The Bosnian town of Srebrenica was overrun by Serb forces in 1995

It was later described as the worst atrocity on European soil since the Second World War

The killings were carried out by ultra-nationalist forces bent on carving up Bosnia

(CNN) —  

Nearly two decades after the Srebrenica massacre left thousands of Muslim boys and men dead, a former Bosnian Serb intelligence chief was sentenced Wednesday to life in prison for his role in their slaughter.

The Yugoslavia war crimes tribunal found Zdravko Tolimir guilty of genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide and other crimes committed in the eastern Bosnian town of Srebrenica, which was overrun by Serb forces in 1995 in what later was described as the worst atrocity on European soil since the Second World War.

The killings, part of the war’s so-called “ethnic cleansing,” were carried out by ultra-nationalist forces bent on carving up Bosnia based on religious and ethnic affiliations.

Between 6,000 and 8,000 people were killed in the massacre, according to the United Nations.

The court, based at The Hague, Netherlands, found that “the harm inflicted upon these men rises to the level of serious bodily and mental harm and constitute acts of genocide.”

Tolimir’s trial had been one of 12 criminal proceedings reviewed by the United Nation’s International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, which has indicted 161 people for “serious violations of humanitarian law” occurring between 1991 and 2001.

Tolimir is thought to have been a top aide to Ratko Mladic, a Bosnian Serb military commander captured in Serbia in 2011. Mladic was considered the last of the top commanders of the war to be accounted for and is currently on trial at The Hague for genocide.

The 1992 to 1995 war in Bosnia war left tens of thousands dead, and hundreds of thousands displaced.