09/06/2011 06:21 am ET Updated Nov 06, 2011

U.N. court jails Serbia's ex-army chief Perisic for 27 years

By Ivana Sekularac

THE HAGUE (Reuters) - The U.N.'s Yugoslavia war crimes tribunal sentenced Serbia's former army chief, Momcilo Perisic, to 27 years in jail on Tuesday for murder, persecution and attacks on civilians in Bosnia and Croatia in the 1990s.

Perisic, 67, was found guilty of helping Serb troops to plan and carry out war crimes, including the killing of 8,000 Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica and of the 42-month-long siege of Sarajevo. He was also convicted of securing financial and logistical support for Serbs in Bosnia and Croatia.

"Momcilo Perisic was found criminally responsible for aiding and abetting murder, inhumane acts, attacks on civilians and persecution on political, racial or religious grounds in Sarajevo and Srebrenica," said Bakone Justice Moloto, the president judge.

Perisic becomes the first Belgrade official to be convicted for Serbia's role in the wars in Bosnia and Croatia -- a role the regime in Serbia has always staunchly denied.

The judge said the trial chamber found Perisic oversaw logistical assistance to Serbs in Bosnia and Croatia which included a "vast quantity of infantry and artillery ammunition, fuel, spare parts, training and technical assistance."

The court also found Perisic bore command responsibility for the shelling of Zagreb in 1995.

Perisic had kept Bosnian Serb General Ratko Mladic on the Yugoslav army payroll list, and personally signed Mladic's promotion to the rank of colonel general in 1994.

Mladic has been indicted for genocide by the Yugoslavia tribunal and was arrested in May this year.

Perisic was chief of staff -- the head of the Yugoslav army -- from 1993 until 1998 when he clashed with Milosevic over the government's policy in Kosovo which led to NATO bombing of the country.

(Reporting by Ivana Sekularac; editing by Matthew Jones)