BELGRADE, June 17 (Reuters) - A Serbian court on Friday sentenced paramilitary Sasa Cvjetan to 20 years imprisonment for his part in the murder of 14 Kosovo Albanian civilians in 1999 during the NATO air war against Yugoslavia.
Cvjetan had been found guilty and given an identical sentence in March 2004, but the Supreme Court overturned the verdict because of technical omissions and ordered a re-trial.
The burly, short-haired Cvjetan, 30, was a member of the Scorpions, a paramilitary group which operated within Serb special police units in Kosovo and was active on Croatian and Bosnian territory during the 1990s Yugoslav wars.
A chilling video taken by one of the Scorpions showing members of the group murdering six Muslim men from Srebrenica in 1995 shocked the Serbian public when it was shown on television this month. It drew public condemnation and immediate arrests.
A human rights activist who uncovered the video had first learnt of its existence from one of the Scorpions who testified at Cvjetan's trial. Cvjetan said he joined the group in 1999.
Judge Biljana Sinanovic said that all the evidence presented during the trial showed that Cvjetan had, together with other members of the Scorpions, participated in the murder of women and children in Podujevo on March 28, 1999.
The case broke new ground when five children who survived the massacre came to Belgrade four years later to testify. The eldest of them picked Cvjetan out of a lineup, saying he looked familiar, but did not make a positive identification.
The re-trial was ordered because Cvjetan had withdrawn the confession he had made shortly after the massacre in 1999, insisting it was made under duress without the presence of his lawyer, and disputing a lawyer's signature on the report.