Prokuplje, Yugoslavia; 8 July 2002 (RFE/RL) -- A former Yugoslav soldier was sentenced to eight years in prison today at the first trial before a Serbian court for war crimes committed during the 1998-99 war in Kosovo. Judge Dragan Tacic delivered the sentence, saying that Ivan Nikolic was found guilty of "breaking international rules of war by killing two ethnic Albanian civilians [and] committing war crimes against the civilian population."
According to the judge, the court established that Nikolic killed two ethnic Albanian civilians in May 1999, in a village located between the northern Kosovo town of Podujevo and the capital Pristina.
The 30-year-old defendant was originally charged with murder but the district court in the southern Serbian town of Prokuplje changed the indictment to war crimes charges in April.
Nikolic had pleaded not guilty.