Court acquits Naser Oric of war crimes

Court acquits Naser Oric of war crimes

Court acquits Naser Oric of war crimes

A Sarajevo court yesterday acquitted Naser Oric, a commander revered by many as the defender of Muslims during Bosnia's 1990s conflict, of war crimes charges.

Oric, 50, was bodyguard to former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic and is one of only a few Bosnian Muslim commanders to have faced trial for atrocities committed against Serbs.

He was acquitted of the charge of killing three ethnic Serb prisoners in 1992. Another Bosnian army soldier, Sabahudin Muhic, was also found not guilty.

Oric defended the eastern town of Srebrenica, where some 8,000 Muslim men and boys were eventually massacred by Serb forces.

But in 2006, Oric was sentenced by a U.N. war crimes tribunal to two years in prison for not doing enough to protect Srebrenica's Serb population during Bosnia's 1992-1995 war.

He was acquitted on appeal in 2008, a ruling angering Serbs, who accused The Hague-based court of "partiality."

As a young police officer, Oric was a member of a Belgrade unit tasked with protecting Milosevic, who led the former Yugoslavia's bloody collapse in the 1990s.

Some 130,000 people were killed in the wars that raged on the former federation's territory between 1991 and 1999. Bosnia's conflict claimed 100,000 lives.

Oric attended Milosevic's meetings as a bodyguard by day and moonlighted as a security guard in Belgrade nightclubs at night.

When the war between Bosnia's Croats, Muslims and Serbs started, he was in his native town of Srebrenica and organised its defence from April 1992.