Former Kentucky Woman Guilty of War Crimes

Azra Basic convicted of torturing civilians in Bosnian war; later moved to US
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 27, 2017 5:49 PM CST
'Mistress of Life and Death' Gets 14 Years
Azra Basic leaves the Federal Courthouse after a hearing in 2011 in Lexington, Ky.   (AP Photo/Ed Reinke)

She was a middle-aged woman working at a Nestle plant in Kentucky when she was arrested in 2011, but Azra Basic had a much darker past. On Wednesday, a war crimes court in Sarajevo sentenced the 58-year-old to 14 years in prison for torturing and killing civilians during the Balkan war of the 1990s, reports the BBC. During that conflict, Basic had the nickname of "mistress of life and death" as she oversaw the treatment of Serbs detained by Bosnian-Croat forces. The details are grisly. Prosecutors say Basic forced prisoners to crawl over broken glass, killed one detainee by stabbing him in the neck, carved crosses into prisoners' foreheads, forced one man to drink gasoline before setting his hands and face on fire, and more.

Basic left for the US in 1994, settled in Kentucky under an alias, and became a naturalized US citizen in 2007, reports the Lexington Herald-Leader. She was arrested four years later by US federal marshals and eventually lost a legal battle to avoid extradition to Bosnia-Herzegovina for trial. Her 14-year sentence is the longest given to a woman for atrocities during the Balkan war. The court convicted her of "killing and inhumane treatment, infliction of great pain and violation of bodily integrity and health" of imprisoned civilians, per the AP. (More war crimes stories.)

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