June 8, 2018 / 9:38 AM / 8 months ago

Bosnia court orders retrial of Srebrenica's Muslim defender

FILE PHOTO: A Swiss Air Force airplane carrying former Bosnian army commander Naser Oric arrives at Sarajevo International Airport in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, June 26, 2015. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

SARAJEVO (Reuters) - An appeals court ordered on Friday the retrial of former Bosnian Muslim commander Naser Oric who was acquitted last year of war crimes against Serbs during the country’s 1992-95 conflict.

Oric led the defence of Srebrenica, a besieged town that eventually fell to Bosnian Serb forces in 1995 who then killed more than 8,000 Muslim men and boys in Europe’s worst atrocity since World War Two.

Bosnia’s war crimes court cleared Oric and his fellow soldier Sabahudin Muhic in October of charges related to the killings of three Serb civilians in and around Srebrenica earlier in the war.

Bosnian Muslims, who regard Oric as a hero, cheered his acquittal but Serbs, who view the commander and his troops as criminals, condemned the ruling.

The appeals court noted in a statement the prosecutor had argued that criminal procedures had been violated, with facts of the case incorrectly or incompletely established. The court had therefore decided “to revoke the verdict in its entirety and hold a retrial”.

The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) acquitted Oric of war crimes against Serbs in 2008, but he was arrested again in June 2015 in Switzerland on a warrant from Serbia accusing him of killing three Bosnian Serb prisoners of war early in the conflict.

During the war the United Nations declared Srebrenica a “safe area” but Dutch troops failed to prevent its capture by Bosnian Serb forces.

Reporting by Daria Sito-Sucic; editing by David Stamp

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