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Bosnian Muslim Wartime Commander, 16 Others Charged With War Crimes

Bosnian Muslim wartime commander Atif Dudakovic's arrest in April sparked protests in Bihac. (file photo)

Bosnian Muslim wartime commander Atif Dudakovic and 16 members of his unit were charged on October 11 with carrying out atrocities against Serbs in western Bosnia during the 1992-95 war.

Dudakovic, 65, was also charged with war crimes against fellow Muslims who supported a rival faction during the conflict, Bosnia's state prosecutor's office said.

Dudakovic has dismissed all the accusations as politically motivated.

Dudakovic was a general in the Bosnian Muslim-dominated army who commanded the 5th Corps operating in the Bihac enclave, which was surrounded and besieged by Bosnian Serb forces from 1991 to 1995.

"The defendants are accused of the murder of more than 300 Serbs, most of them civilians, mainly elderly, as well as soldiers who had surrendered or were detained," the prosecutors said.

They said that bodies of a number of the victims were found in several mass graves after the war.

Part of the indictment refers to crimes committed against Muslims led by renegade leader Fikret Abdic, who had set up a breakaway province around the western town of Velika Kladusa.

Abdic himself was jailed for 20 years in 2002 for war crimes against Muslims loyal to the Bosnian government by a court in Croatia, which later reduced his prison term to 15 years and released him in 2012.

Dudakovic and another 11 members of his corps were arrested in April on war crimes charges but were later released with restrictions on their movement.

After the war, Dudakovic served as the general commander of the army in Bosnia's autonomous Bosniak-Croat Federation, which was later merged into the countrywide armed forces.

Bosnia has been ruled by Serb, Croat, and Muslim nationalist parties for the most part since the end of the war, which killed more than 100,000 people. It remains deeply divided along ethnic lines.

Based on reporting by AP, AFP, and Reuters