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This can only happen in Bosnia
Autor: BIRN
Objavljeno: 05. Jun 2018. 14:06:32

The acquittal of Naser Oric, the Bosnian Army’s former commander in Srebrenica, has been quashed and he will be retried for allegedly killing three Bosnian Serb prisoners of war in 1992.

The appeals chamber of Bosnia’s state court has overturned the first-verdict acquitting Naser Oric and his subordinate Sabahudin Muhic and ordered a retrial, the prosecution confirmed to BIRN on Monday.

Oric’s defence lawyer Lejla Covic said she had not received any notification from the court about its decision yet.

The state court in October 2017 acquitted Oric and former Bosnian Army soldier Muhic of killing three Serb prisoners of war in the Bratunac and Srebrenica area.

The prosecution had alleged that Oric, who was a commander of Bosnian Army territorial defence units, and Muhic, who was his subordinate, killed the Serb captives in the villages of Zalazje, Lolici and Kunjerac in 1992.

But the court ruled that the prosecution failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt that Oric and Muhic committed the killings.

Last month, the state prosecution asked for the first-instance verdict to be overturned and a retrial ordered, alleging substantial violations of criminal proceedings, as well as incompletely and incorrectly determined facts.

The defence argued however that the prosecution’s appeal was “confusing, unclear and incomprehensible”.

The trial was highly controversial because Oric is seen as a hero by many Bosniaks for his role in defending Srebrenica in the years before the 1995 massacres, while some Serbs have claimed that the charges against him should have been more severe.

Before the trial started, the defence asked the UN tribunal in The Hague to order a halt to the proceedings against Oric, arguing that he had already been tried for and acquitted of war crimes in Srebrenica by the Hague court and should not stand trial for the same crimes twice.

The Hague Tribunal rejected the request, with the judge saying that “the murder charges in the Bosnian indictment fundamentally differ from the murder charges in the Hague indictment with respect to the alleged victims and the nature, time and location of the alleged crime”.

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