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9 November 2015

Drop Srebrenica Case Against Naser Oric, Lawyers Urge

Denis Dzidic BIRN BiH Sarajevo
Lawyers for former Bosnian Army general Naser Oric asked the Hague Tribunal to order Bosnia to halt war crimes proceedings against him because he has already been acquitted of the charges.
Oric’s lawyers asked Hague Tribunal president Theodor Meron on Monday to appoint a panel of judges to order the Bosnian state court to “permanently stop proceedings against Naser Oric” because he was acquitted in 2008 of taking part in the same war crimes.

The lawyers argued that Oric cannot stand trial for the same crimes twice.

Oric is accused of killing three Bosnian Serb prisoners of war in the villages of Zalazje, Lolici and Kunjerac in the Srebrenica region in 1992.

But his lawyers insisted that the case against him in Bosnia relates to the same military activities which formed the basis of the Hague Tribunal case.

“The previous case encompassed operations undertaken by Muslim armed units in Eastern Bosnia between May 1992 and February 1993, focusing on events in Srebrenica and Bratunac municipalities,” defence lawyers Vasvija Vidovic and John Jones said.

“The case before the Bosnian court concerns the same series of military activities and events in Srebrenica and Bratunac municipalities from mid to late 1992..The allegations in the new indictment all concern matters which were before the Hague prosecutor,” they added.

Oric was acquitted of war crimes against Serbs in the Srebrenica area by the Hague Tribunal in 2008, when the UN-backed court ruled that he did not have control over the Bosnian Army which committed the crimes.

His lawyers asked the Hague Tribunal for the motion to be dealt with urgently.

“As a result of the new proceedings, Oric is subject to measures prohibiting him from leaving the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and mandating that he report weekly to police. These measures interfere with the applicant’s work and personal life,” they said.

“In combination with the ongoing threat of criminal sanction, they also add a measure of indignity and insecurity to the applicant’s life from which his acquittal should have protected him,” they added.

Oric pleaded not guilty last month and is now awaiting the start of his trial.

His indictment drew criticism from both Serb victims of the war – who claimed the charges were too modest – and Bosniak victims of Serb crimes.

He is seen as a hero by some Bosniaks for his role in combatting Bosnian Serb forces in the years before the 1995 Srebrenica massacres.

Another Bosnian army fighter Sabahudin Muhic is charged with the same crimes.
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