Montenegro Convicts Ex-Soldier of Kosovo War Crime

The High Court in Podgorica on Wednesday sentenced Vlado Zmajevic to 14 years in prison for war crimes against the civilian population.

Zmajevic, who was part of Yugoslav Army forces fighting in Kosovo, was found guilty of the murder of four Albanian civilians in the village of Zegra near Gnjilane in Kosovo during the war in 1999.

Explaining the verdict, presiding judge Dragoje Jovovic said that the evidence presented by witnesses proved without doubt that war crimes were committed.

He said that Zmajevic himself acknowledged this during the investigation, although he later went on to deny it.

Zmajevic's lawyer Ljiljana Koldzic said she was "shocked" by the verdict because she believes her client was convicted without any evidence.

Ljoro Markic, a lawyer for the victims' families, said he thought the prison sentence was inadequate.

This was a first-instance verdict and it can be appealed.

Zmajevic was arrested by Montenegrin police in 2016 in the town of Niksic.

This was the first war crime trial in Montenegro in several years; the country's judiciary has tried only six cases so far, which all concluded by 2013, the majority ending in acquittals.

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