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Bosnia Refuses To Extradite Suspect In Hamas Commander's Slaying To Tunisia

A banner with a portrait of Muhammad Zaouari, who was murdered in Tunisia in December 2016
A banner with a portrait of Muhammad Zaouari, who was murdered in Tunisia in December 2016

A Sarajevo court on May 17 refused to hand over a Bosnian man to Tunisia to face charges in the 2016 killing of a one-time commander of the Palestinian group Hamas, saying there is no extradition treaty between the countries.

The suspect, Elvir Sarac, was briefly detained in Sarajevo on May 15 after Tunisia issued an international warrant for him in connection with the killing of Muhammad Zaouari, a Tunisian engineer who was formerly a commander of Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

Zaouari, 49, was killed by gunfire at the wheel of his car outside his house in the Tunisian city of Sfax in December 2016.

Tunisian authorities said they arrested 10 Tunisians after the killing but that two foreigners suspected of plotting the killing had escaped.

Sarac is one of two Bosnians that Tunisian prosecutors say were behind what they called a "terrorist act."

Sarac has denied the charges against thim. Bosnian media reports quoted him as telling the Bosnian court in Sarajevo he was in Tunisia in December 2016, but on a business trip.

The Bosnian judge ordered Sarac's release on May 15, with a court spokesman saying that "Bosnia-Herzegovina has not signed a bilateral accord with Tunisia, which would allow the extradition of its nationals to face criminal trial."

The other Bosnian suspect is Alem Camdzic. He was arrested in March in Croatia, which approved his extradition on May 9. He has appealed the ruling.

Hamas described Zaouari, who also held Belgian citizenship, as one of the group's commanders in Gaza during the 2014 conflict with Israel. He was considered an expert on drones.

Hamas has accused Israel of being behind the killing. Israel has not responded to the claim.

Based on reporting by AFP and Reuters

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