Protesters demand release of Srebrenica Muslim commander

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Several hundred Muslim veterans of Bosnia’s 1990s wars attended a protest Friday to demand the release of Naser Oric, a Bosnian Muslim commander arrested on a Serbian warrant alleging war crimes.

“We did not come to defend Naser Oric, because we know he is innocent,” said one of the veterans, Zulfo Salihovic at a protest in Bosnia’s capital Sarajevo.

“We are here to protest against the hypocrisy of the international community,” he added.

Oric led the Bosnian Muslim forces in Srebrenica in eastern Bosnia, where Bosnian Serb forces slaughtered almost 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys in mid-July 1995.

Qualified as an act of genocide by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), the Srebernica massacre was the worst on European soil since World War II.

Oric was arrested Wednesday in the Geneva region, where he was to attend several events to commemorate the massacre’s 20th anniversary. He is now in detention pending extradition to Serbia, according to Swiss authorities.

Serbia accuses 48-year-old Oric, and four other people, of committing war crimes in July 1992 in Zalazje near Sarajevo, in which nine people were killed.

In 2006, the ICTY found Oric guilty 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 questioned 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.”