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UN Tribunal: Bosnian Muslim Commander Acquitted

Former commander of Bosnian Muslim forces acquitted by UN tribunal

3 July 2008 - The United Nations war crimes tribunal set up to deal with war crimes committed during the Balkan conflicts of the 1990s has overturned the conviction of a former commander of Bosnian Muslim forces who was found guilty two years ago of failing to prevent the murder and torture of Serb captives in Srebrenica.

Naser Oric was acquitted today by the Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), which is based in The Hague, Netherlands.

Mr. Oric had been sentenced in 2006 to two years in prison for failing to take necessary and reasonable measures to prevent the murder and cruel treatment of a number of Bosnian Serbs held at the Srebrenica Police Station and a building behind the Srebrenica municipal building in the period between 27 December 1992 and 20 March 1993.

Both the Prosecution and the Defence appealed the judgment.

The Appeals Chamber found that the Trial Chamber failed to make all of the findings necessary to convict a person for command responsibility under the Tribunal's Statute.

"Naser Oric's entire conviction rested on that mode of liability," the Presiding Judge, Wolfgang Schomburg, said. "These errors therefore invalidate the Trial Chamber's decision to convict Naser Oric for his failure to prevent his subordinate's alleged criminal conduct."

The Appeals Chamber underscored that, like the Trial Chamber, it had no doubt that grave crimes were committed against Serbs detained in the two detention facilities in Srebrenica between September 1992 and March 1993.

"However, proof that crimes have occurred is not sufficient to sustain a conviction of an individual for these crimes. Criminal proceedings require evidence establishing beyond reasonable doubt that the accused is individually responsible for a crime before a conviction can be entered," the Appeals Chamber found.

ENDS

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