A former Croatian soldier, Azra Bašić, was sentenced to 14 years in prison for war crimes by a court in Sarajevo on Wednesday, in what is the longest sentence handed out to a woman for crimes committed during the Bosnian conflict of the 1990s.
Bašić, 58, was extradited to Bosnia at the end of 2016 by the United States, where she emigrated after the Bosnian conflict that raged between 1992 and 1995, and left 100,000 people dead. She was arrested in 2011 at the request of a Bosnian court.
She was convicted of committing war crimes, including torture, against Serb civilians in the northern town of Derventa in April 1992.
Judge Sead Djikic emphasized « the particular cruelty of the accused ». Alone or with other soldiers, she tortured a dozen detainees, including kicking, punching, and in one case, causing the death of a detainee by stabbing them in the neck. The torture took place in a theatre where prisoners had been brought before being locked up.
Bašić had been living under an alias in the US for the last twenty years, where she was described by friends as “big-hearted” and “a very nice lady,” the BBC reports.
Azra Bašić is one of a dozen women accused or convicted of crimes during the Bosnian conflict. About twenty others are to be investigated. Several hundred men have already been sentenced for war crimes.
The most famous female war criminal remains former Bosnian Serb vice-president Biljana Plavsic, now 87 years old. The only woman to be tried before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, she was sentenced in 2003 to 11 years in prison after pleading guilty to her crimes.