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New Trial Ordered For Bosnian Muslim Wartime Commander Oric


Naser Oric (right) leaves a court in Sarajevo on October 9, 2017.

Naser Oric, the Bosnian Muslim commander who defended Srebrenica during the 1990s war, faces a new trial for alleged war crimes after an earlier acquittal was overturned, his lawyer says.

Lawyer Lejla Covic told AFP on June 6 that the Sarajevo-based Court of Bosnia-Herzegovina has ordered the retrial for the 51-year-old former commander.

Covic said she was told the acquittal was "quashed due to serious violation of criminal proceedings," but did not provide further details.

The court confirmed the ruling, AFP reported, although a date for a new trial was not disclosed. The acquittal of former Bosnian Army soldier Sabahudin Muhic was also overturned and a new trial ordered.

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 1992-95 Bosnian War, 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 in July 1995 fell 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 (ICTY) for the former Yugoslavia 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, Balkan Insight, and the BBC
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