News 25 Jun 15

Switzerland to Extradite Naser Oric to Bosnia

Former Bosnian Army general Naser Oric will to be extradited from Switzerland to Bosnia and Herzegovina, where he is under investigation for war crimes, despite Belgrade’s plea for him to be sent to Serbia.

Denis Dzidic
BIRN
Sarajevo
Naser Oric. Photo: Bosnian state court.

Bosniak wartime general Oric, whose arrest in Switzerland on a Serbian war crimes warrant sparked anger in Bosnia and Herzegovina, will be extradited to Sarajevo rather than Belgrade, the Swiss Federal Office of Justice (FOJ) said on Thursday.

“On Thursday, Oric stated at the hearing on this request that he agreed to be extradited to Bosnia and Herzegovina. This permitted the FOJ to approve the extradition immediately in simplified proceedings,” the FOJ said in a statement.

“The decisive points here are that the same criminal acts on which both [extradition] requests [from Belgrade and Sarajevo] are based were committed in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and that Oric is a citizen of Bosnia and Herzegovina,” it said.

It added that for reasons of security and privacy, no information will be given about the timing of Oric’s transfer to Bosnia.

Oric, who was the Bosniak commander in Srebrenica during the 1992-95 war, was arrested at the Swiss border with France on June 10 on a Serbian war crimes warrant, and was remanded for 18 days in extradition custody.

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

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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Background

Srebrenica: Genocide Reconstructed

In July 1995 Srebrenica was shelled and occupied by the Army of Republic of Srpska,VRS, despite being declared a protected area by the United Nations. More than 7,000 people were killed, the victims of genocide.

Ratko Mladic: The Force Behind the Srebrenica Killings

The Bosnian Serb commander’s role in the genocide committed in Srebrenica is described in detail in many indictments and verdicts pronounced before local and international judicial institutions.

The Indictment Against Ratko Mladic

Indictments in 1995 and 2000, further amended in 2002 and 2010, charge the former commander of the Republika Srpska Army with genocide and other crimes.

Ratko Mladic: From Promising Officer to Bloodstained Warlord

When Mladic ordered his army to bomb the people of Sarajevo until they ‘go insane’, he revealed the murderous intentions that would culminate in the Srebrenica massacre.

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