Serbia seeks extradition of former Bosnian Muslim commander

Former commander of Bosnian Muslim forces in Srebrenica Naser Oric (C), pictured on July 4, 2008, called on international justices to order Bosnia to drop war crimes charges against him (AFP Photo/Elvis Barukcic)
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Belgrade (AFP) - Belgrade has asked Switzerland to extradite former Bosnian Muslim commander Naser Oric, who was arrested in Geneva on a war crimes warrant from Serbia, Serbia's official news agency reported Sunday.

Belgrade's decision to seek Oric's extradition comes just three weeks before 20th anniversary commemorations of the Srebrenica massacre when Bosnian Serb forces slaughtered more than 8,000 Muslims in July 1995, and risks worsening relations with Bosnia.

"The extradition request is accompanied by documents from the prosecutor over the suspected war crimes" allegedly committed by Oric, Serbia's official news agency Tanjug reported, quoting the country's justice minister.

Oric led the Bosnian Muslim forces in Srebrenica in eastern Bosnia.

His arrest has sparked outrage in Bosnia, and has forced Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic to call off a visit to the ex-Yugoslavia state.

The Muslim member of Bosnia's tripartite presidency, Bakir Izetbegovic, had urged Nikolic to delay his trip over Oric's arrest.

Serbia accuses Oric and four other people of committing war crimes in July 1992 in Zalazje near Sarajevo, where nine ethnic Serbs were killed.

Oric had been found guilty by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia of failing to fulfil his duty as a superior officer and preventing the murder and mistreatment of Serbian prisoners in Srebrenica and sentenced him to two years in prison.

Two years later the court's Appeals Chamber acquitted him of all charges on the grounds of insufficient evidence.

ICTY prosecutor Serge Brammertz has raised questions over whether the Serbian allegations, if they are drawn from the previous case against Oric, will stand up in court.

He told reporters previously that under international law "no one can be convicted twice on the same facts."

Bosnia's 1992-1995 war claimed some 100,000 lives.

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