Conflict & Justice

Bosnian woman jailed for wartime killings


A former sniper position on slopes of mount Trebevic gives a view of Bosnian capital Sarajevo, on April 2, 2012.



A Bosnian Muslim woman has been jailed after pleading guilty to murdering Croat civilians and prisoners of war during the bloody 1992-1995 Bosnian war, becoming the first woman to be convicted in the country for crimes committed during the ethnic conflict that ensued after the breakup of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

Rasema Handanovic, 39, was sentenced to five and a half years in prison on Monday for participating in the executions of three Bosnian Croat soldiers and three civilians during an attack on the southern village of Trusina in April 1993, according to the Agence France Presse.

A total of 18 Croat civilians and four prisoners of war were killed in the attack. A member of the Zulfikar special unit, Handanovic pleaded guilty to the killings last week and agreed to testify against six other former members of the unit in return for a lighter sentence.

More from GlobalPost: Red chairs line Sarajevo street as Bosnia marks 20 years since war

The judge, Jasmina Kosovic, said Handanovic had been the victim of a wartime rape and lost family members in the conflict, Reuters reports:

“The court has taken into account that Handanovic admitted the crimes, was willing to provide all information and evidence related to the attack and the fact that she expressed remorse to the relatives of the victims,” Kosovic said.

Handanovic emigrated to the United States after the Bosnian war, becoming a naturalized US citizen. She was extradited to Bosnia-Herzegovina in December, according to the International Business Times.

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

More from GlobalPost: Serbia in paradox