Srebrenica Commander Acquitted of Killing Captives

Bosnian state court in Sarajevo acquitted in the first instance the wartime commander of Bosniak-held eastern Bosnia enclave of Srebrenica from the responsibility for the deaths of three Serb captives in 1992, during the first year of the Bosnian war.

Naser Orić and one of his military subordinates were tried at the Court of  Bosnia and Herzegovina for the killings of three Serb captives during the raids on villages outside the enclave surrounded by the Bosnian Serb forces. The prosecution had based its case on the testimony of a protected witness, who claimed that he personally saw Orić killing the three captives. The defense contested the credibility of that witness by presenting a list of his previous court convictions, including perjury.

Before the trial started, the defense argued that the Srebrenica commander was already tried by the the UN war crimes tribunal for former Yugoslavia in The Hague and sought the charges to be dropped. The Hague tribunal said, however, that the Bosnian indictment was fundamentally different from its own.

The Orić case has stirred a lot of controversy in Bosnia, as the Srebrenica commander is considered to be a hero by most Bosniaks for his role in the defense of the town that will later become infamous for the 1995 genocide, while many Serbs hold him responsible for some 3,000 deaths in the eastern Bosnia region before the Serb forces overran the enclave in 1995.

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