Srebrenica ex-commander Oric arrested in Switzerland

Former commander Bosniak Naser Oric arrested by Swiss police

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

Updated Jul 28, 2015

Swiss police arrested the Bosnian former commander of Srebrenica, Naser Oric, on June 10, at the Thonex-Valland crossing between Switzerland and France.

The former commander of the Army of the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina 8th Operational Group (Srebrenica) was arrested based on a warrant issued by Interpol Serbia in February 2014.

In addition to Oric, international arrest warrants were also issued for the arrest of wartime chief of the police station in Srebrenica - Hakija Meholjic - and three other members of Bosnia-Herzegovina’s army.

Serbia's War Crimes Prosecutor's Office holds Oric and the four Bosniaks responsible for killing nine civilians of Serbian nationality in the villages of Zalazje and Donji Potocari, in the Srebrenica area, on July 12, 1992.

Commander Oric was indicted by The Hague-based International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) for alleged crimes against Serbs but was acquitted of all charges in 2008, a ruling that angered the Bosnian Serbs and Serbia, who see the tribunal as biased against them.

According to Reuters, the official Camil Durakovic, mayor of the eastern Bosnian town of Srebrenica, said he was with Oric at the time of his arrest because both were to attend a series of events in Geneva to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre in which 8,372 Muslim men, women and children were killed.

Durakovic told Bosnia's state-owned Federalna Televizija that Oric was detained at a border crossing between France and Switzerland. He was handcuffed and taken to a police station in Geneva, said Durakovic .

"He is currently being interrogated," Durakovic said.

The Srebrenica massacre, widely viewed as the worst atrocity on European soil since World War Two, was the culmination of a campaign of ethnic cleansing by the forces of Bosnian Serb military commander Ratko Mladic aimed at carving out a Serbian state from ethnically mixed Bosnia.

In 2006, Oric was sentenced by the Hague-based International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia to two years in prison for not doing enough to prevent crimes committed against Serbs during the conflict. However he was then acquitted of all charges two years later.

On June 9, the United Kingdom, one of the permanent members of the UN Security Council announced it seeks to draft a resolution on the UN’s failure to prevent the genocide in the town of Srebrenica in Bosnia and Herzegovina in July 1995.

The UK’s resolution move angered Bosnian Serbs, a community living in their own autonomous region in Bosnia and Herzegovina called the Republic of Srpska.

Dutch UN soldiers have also been accused of serious and willful misconduct regarding the massacre.

Last year, the Dutch government said it would pay the families of Srebrenica victims 20,000 euros each in compensation, after a civil court ruling that the state was indeed liable for the deaths.

Two decades after the end of the Bosnian war, the country remains politically and ethnically divided, comprising a Muslim Bosniak-Croatian federation and a Bosnian Serb republic.

Srebrenica residents furious

Residents in Srebrenica were furious over the arrest of Oric and stated the he was innocent, implying there were others who needed to be arrested.

“That man is innocent, and there are others who committed crimes. You see for how many years have we been walking here demanding arrests, but look how few of them have been arrested. This is all done by Serbia, we know their tactics and their lobby is very strong,” said Nura Begovic, protesting against the arrest.

Hajra Catic, who is still in search of the remains of her son who was killed in 1995, said that, “These are all political games. Each time ahead of July 11 [Srebrenica massacre anniversary], something like this happens. This time it’s the straw that broke the camel’s back.”

TRTWorld and agencies