Former Serbian soldier sentenced to 20 years

A Serbian court convicted a former Serb paramilitary Wednesday in the killing of nearly 200 prisoners during Croatia's independence war, and sentenced him to 20 years in prison.

Sasa Radak was convicted for his role in the November 1991 execution of 192 Croats at the Ovcara pig farm in eastern Croatia, AP reports.

Another 14 other paramilitaries were sentenced in December for their parts in the killings, but Radak was tried separately as he was apprehended only last year.

Radak had insisted throughout the trial, which started last year and included survivors' testimony, that he had "never killed anyone who was a captive."

The three-judge pannel at Belgrade's war crimes ruled, however, that he was guilty and should serve 20 years in prison.

Croatia's 1991 declaration of independence from the former Yugoslavia triggered a rebellion by its ethnic Serbs, who with Belgrade's backing captured a third of the republic's territory. The rebellion was crushed in 1995, and Croatia recaptured the territories.

The Ovcara case has been a key test for Serbia's judiciary and its ability to punish the atrocities committed during the Balkan wars of the 1990s under former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic.

Three Yugoslav Army officers are charged in the case and facing trial before the Netherlands-based U.N. war crimes court, which deals with high-profile suspects.