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Serbia Charges Five For Wartime Killing Of Muslims

Mourners commemorate the 23rd anniversary of the killings in Strpci with Muamer Zukorlic, mufti of the Islamic Community in Serbia, on February 27, 2016.

Serbian prosecutors say they have charged five people with torturing and killing 20 men, mostly Serbian Muslims, during the 1990s war in neighboring Bosnia-Herzegovina.

The indictment said that Serbian paramilitaries on February 27, 1993, stopped a train in Strpci, a village on the border with Bosnia, and took 20 people, most of them Muslims, off the train.

The paramilitaries brought the men to Visegrad in eastern Bosnia, where they tortured and killed all of them, dumping their bodies in the Drina River.

All the victims were from the Muslim-dominated Sandzak area in western Serbia, which borders Bosnia.

A total of 16 suspected members of the paramilitary group were arrested in 2014 in Bosnia's Serb-run entity and in Serbia proper.

Eleven have gone on trial in Sarajevo, one of whom pleaded guilty and was sentenced to five years in prison in 2016 after reaching a deal with the prosecutors.

Another member of the group was sentenced to 15 years in prison in 2002 by a court in nearby Montenegro.

In 2009, the group's leader, Bosnian Serb Milan Lukic, was sentenced to life in prison by a UN tribunal for war crimes during Bosnia's 1992-95 conflict.

He was never charged over the Strpci massacre, but his brother, Gojko Lukic, figures among the five recently accused.

Bosnia's 1992-95 war between its Croats, Muslims, and Serbs claimed around 100,000 lives.

With reporting by AFP