Appeal against war crimes sentence fails

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The man convicted of some of the cruellest war crimes committed during the break-up of Yugoslavia in the early 1990s has had his life sentence upheld by an appeals court.

Serbian paramilitary leader Milan Lukic is most notorious for barricading 70 Muslim men, women and children in a house before setting it on fire, in what became known as the Pionirska Street massacre. He then shot anyone who tried to escape.

Lukic had launched 11 appeals against his conviction for that crime and other atrocities, saying he had alibis and witnesses had falsely identified him.

But the court in The Hague yesterday rejected almost all of his case, making only small changes to the charges, and confirmed his conviction would stand.

Lukic led the ethnic Serb paramilitary group the White Eagles.