Jezik / Language:
25 June 2015

Naser Oric Agrees to Bosnia Extradition

Denis Dzidic BIRN BiH Sarajevo
Former Bosnian Army general Naser Oric has agreed to be extradited from Switzerland to Bosnia and Herzegovina, where he is under investigation for war crimes, although he is also wanted by Serbia.
Oric’s lawyer Vasvija Vidovic told BIRN that after a court hearing in Switzerland on Thursday, the wartime general had agreed to extradition to Bosnia and Herzegovina and said he would not appeal against being sent to the country.

At the hearing, Oric was presented with the extradition requests from Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia, which wants to try him for war crimes against Bosnian Serb civilians in 1992 in the village of Zalazje near Srebrenica.

But according to Vidovic, the fact that the alleged crime took place in Bosnian territory, that Oric holds only a Bosnian passport and that he is willing to be extradited to Bosnia and Herzegovina, which also has an open war crimes investigation against him, should sway the Swiss authorities of the Bosnian extradition request.

Asked whether this means he could be released from custody during the proceedings, Vidovic said she could not be sure.

“This hasn’t been decided yet. The decision has to be made by tomorrow,” she said.

Oric was arrested at the Swiss border with France on June 10 based on a Serbian war crimes warrant, and was remanded for 18 days in extradition custody.

Serbia issued the arrest warrant after Oric last year, and several days after his arrest in Switzerland filed an official extradition request.

But the Bosnian prosecution said on Monday that it also has a war crimes investigation into Oric and asked the Swiss authorities to extradite him to Bosnia and Herzegovina.

“If he were extradited to Serbia, Oric’s case in Bosnia and Herzegovina would be jeopardised,” said the Bosnian prosecution.

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

His arrest has caused protests in Bosnia and Herzegovina, where he is seen as a hero by some Bosniaks.

The committee organising the 20th anniversary commemoration of the 1995 Srebrenica genocide has said that it will postpone the planned July 11 ceremony until he is released from detention in Switzerland.

The head of the commemoration’s organising committee, Srebrenica mayor Camil Durakovic, told media that the situation had “escalated significantly” and security could not be guaranteed at the commemoration because there were “50,000 people who intend to come to Srebrenica on July 11 who will be very emotional”.
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