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Bosnian Muslim Commander Oric Aquitted Of War Crimes Charges

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Wartime Bosnian Muslim Commander Oric Acquitted In War Crimes Trial
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WATCH: Wartime Bosnian Muslim Commander Oric Acquitted In War Crimes Trial

Naser Oric, the Bosnian Muslim commander who defended Srebrenica during the 1990s war, has been acquitted of war crimes charges.

The Court of Bosnia-Herzegovina in Sarajevo delivered the ruling on November 30.

"Naser Oric and" his fellow fighter "Sabahudin Muhic are acquitted of charges of having committed during the war ... crimes against prisoners," Judge Tihomir Lukes said.

The two men were tried again for the killing of three Serb prisoners in the Srebrenica area at the start of the 1992-95 war, which pitted the country's Serb, Muslim and Croat communities against each other.

A Bosnian court in October 2017 acquitted Oric and Muhic of killing three Serb prisoners of war in the Bratunac and Srebrenica area during the conflict, in which more than 100,000 people were killed.

Oric is seen as a hero by many Bosnian Muslims for his role in defending Srebrenica, which fell in July 1995 to Bosnian Serb troops who killed more than 8,000 Muslim men and boys in what is considered Europe's worst atrocity since World War II.

In a separate case in 2006, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague convicted Oric of failing to prevent men under his command from killing and mistreating Bosnian Serb prisoners in 1992-93.

But he was immediately released because he had already served time in pretrial detention.

In 2008, the UN court's appeals chamber overturned the verdict, ruling that prosecutors had not proved that Oric had control over the men in his command.

Unhappy with the acquittal, Belgrade in 2014 launched an international warrant over the killing of Serb civilians near Srebrenica in 1992, leading to his arrest in Switzerland in 2015.

Belgrade demanded that Oric be sent to Serbia for trial, but Swiss authorities extradited him to Bosnia, citing the fact that Oric is a Bosnian citizen.

Oric and Muhic were acquitted of the charges in October 2017 when the judge ruled that the testimony of a protected witness lacked credibility and was contradictory.

With reporting by AFP
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