News 10 Oct 17

Srebrenica Commander Oric ‘Not Ashamed’ of Wartime Actions

In his first interview after being acquitted of killing three Serb captives during wartime, the former Bosniak commander in Srebrenica, Naser Oric, said he was a “knight” on the battlefield.

Filip Rudic
BIRN
Belgrade
Naser Oric on the day of his acquittal. Photo: Beta/HINA/FENA/Almir Razic.

The Bosnian Army’s former Srebrenica commander Naser Oric said in an interview on Monday after being acquitted by the state court in Sarajevo that he fought honourably and was not ashamed of his wartime actions.

“I am sorry that war broke out and that we had to fight each other, but I didn’t make the war happen. I am sorry for the families on both sides who found themselves in this ‘Bosnian pot’,” Oric said in an interview with Bosnia’s Faktor website.

He added that he was not nervous at the verdict hearing on Monday because he was certain that he would be found not guilty.

The prosecution had alleged that Oric, who was a commander of Bosnian Army territorial defence units, and a subordinate of his who was also acquitted, killed the Serb captives in the villages of Zalazje, Lolici and Kunjerac in 1992.

The case was highly controversial because Oric is seen as a hero by many Bosniaks for his role in defending Srebrenica in the years before the 1995 massacres, while some Serbs have claimed that the charges against him should have been more severe.

The verdict drew sharp reactions from Serbian and Bosnian Serb leaders, who condemned the Bosnian court.

Asked about the reaction of Serbia’s Justice Minister Nela Kuburovic, who said that the Serbian courts will continue to prosecute him for allegedly murdering Serb civilians, Oric said he knows nothing about that trial.

“I answer to the Bosnian authorities and to the Hague Tribunal, as for the aggressors - I answer them differently,” Oric said.

Oric was acquitted of war crimes by the Hague Tribunal in 2008.

He added that he will never feel safe from new indictments, which he claims are politically motivated.

“Relating to alleged new indictments - I am here, I’m not running away. I fought for this country and plan to die in it,” he said.

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