Charged with War Crimes, Former Commander Released Pending Trial

A former commander of the government-controlled forces and a group of his subordinates were released from the state court custody in Sarajevo, following their arrest on Friday in northern Bosnia town of Bihać.

General Atif Dudaković and 12 others will be tried for war crimes committed against Bosnian Serbs and Bosniaks in a breakaway northern Bosnia province during the 1992-1995 Bosnian war.

The state prosecutor requested custody for the group arrested on Friday in several towns, but the request was rejected by the state court judges. The prosecutor argued that the suspects would pose threat to the ongoing investigation if they were released.

The Friday arrests were met with strong reactions in Bosnia. The main Bosniak party criticized the arrests as an effort to create a balance between the crimes committed by the Bosnian Serb forces and the forces controlled by the government in Sarajevo.

“The Bosnian army systematically stopped and punished perpetrators of crimes in its own ranks. On the other hand, the forces which conducted the aggression against Bosnia and Herzegovina systematically planned, organised, encouraged and committed crimes,” the SDA said in a statement.

The arrests drew praise from some Bosnian Serb politicians, with Dragan Čavić, former president of the Republika Srpska entity, saying he hoped Dudaković would be found guilty: “That man was the key person, on the basis of his command responsibility, for war crimes against Serbs, as well as Bosniaks in the zone of responsibility of the (Bosnian army) Fifth Corps, particularly at the end of 1995. The day has finally come for him to be deprived of liberty, and that pleases me.”

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