Jelisic had been found guilty on Oct. 19 of 31 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed while he was a shift commander at the notorious Luka prison camp in northern Bosnia.
Jelisic, a former farm mechanic who prosecutors said was responsible for the deaths of dozens of prisoners, had pleaded guilty and acknowledged before the court that he went by the nickname "Adolf," in reference to Hitler.
"The crimes which you, Goran Jelisic, have committed have shocked the conscience of mankind," the presiding judge, Claude Jorda of France, said after reading out the names of the victims.
Jelisic stood silently in the dock as the sentence was read.
The charges related to the torture and murder of 13 Muslims and Croats in May 1992, near the outbreak of the three-year Bosnian War. However, he was declared innocent of a genocide charge.
Chief prosecutor Carla Del Ponte was satisfied with the sentence, her spokesman, Paul Risley, said.
In reading the ruling, Jorda noted the "repugnant, bestial and sadistic nature" of Jelisic's behavior.
"Your scornful attitude toward your victims, your enthusiasm for committing the crimes, the inhumanity of the crimes and your dangerous nature ... constitute especially aggravating circumstances," he said.
The longest prison sentence handed down by the court previously was given to Dusan Tadic, another Bosnian Serb who was convicted of systematically torturing and murdering Muslims and Croats during the Bosnian war.
During three and a half weeks of testimony earlier this fall, witnesses and prosecutors described Jelisic as responsible for a bloodthirsty reign of terror at the Luka camp near Brcko in the spring and summer of 1992.
According to one witness, Jelisic boasted that he executed 20 to 30 Muslims every morning before breakfast.
The Yugoslav tribunal, set up by the U.N. Security Council in 1993, has convicted eight suspects on war crimes, crimes against humanity and grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions.
However, it has failed to deliver a single verdict on genocide, which requires proof that the defendant knowingly participated in a plan to destroy a national, ethnic or religious group.
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