Bosnia Serb charged over war killings, hotel rapes

SARAJEVO Tue Nov 22, 2011 4:27pm GMT

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SARAJEVO (Reuters) - A Bosnian Serb former soldier was charged on Tuesday with the murder of Muslim detainees and the rape and torture of women held in a hotel in the eastern town of Visegrad during Bosnia's 1992-95 war.

The Balkan country's war crimes court confirmed charges filed by prosecutors against Oliver Krsmanovic for crimes against humanity and violations of the law or customs of war.

A former member of the 2nd Podrinjska Light Infantry Brigade, Krsmanovic is accused of taking part in the "unlawful imprisonment of 70 Bosniak (Bosnian Muslim) civilians and their killing in the Visegrad neighbourhood of Bikavac on June 27, 1992," the court said.

He is also accused of participating in the rape and sexual abuse of Bosnian Muslim women held in the Vilina Vlas hotel in the town on the border with Serbia.

The indictment said Krsmanovic operated together with Milan Lukic, leader of a Serb paramilitary group known as the White Eagles who was sentenced to life imprisonment in 2009 by the United Nations war crimes tribunal in The Hague for the killing of at least 119 Muslims in two incidents in June 1992.

Lukic was found guilty of killing some 59 people burnt alive in a house set ablaze, and another 60 killed when his fighters barricaded them inside a building and tossed in grenades.

Krsmanovic has been in custody since his arrest in May.

Separately on Tuesday, Bosnian police acting on the orders of the state prosecutor arrested eight Bosnian Muslim ex-army and police officers, as well as a local official, suspected of crimes against civilians and prisoners of war.

The eight are suspected of taking part in the forced detention of Bosnian Serbs in the Silos detention camp in Tarcin near Sarajevo from 1992 to 1996.

"A number of civilians and prisoners of war were forcefully kept in detention and were exposed to inhumane treatment, torture and some were killed," the prosecutor's office said in a statement.

The Bosnian court was opened in 2005 to prosecute low- and mid-ranking war crimes cases and ease the burden on the Hague-based tribunal, now focussing on top war crimes indictees such as Bosnian Serb wartime leaders Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic.

An estimated 100,000 civilians died during the war.

(Reporting By Maja Zuvela; Editing by Matt Robinson and Peter Graff)

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