Retrial starts for Bosnia's 'defender of Srebrenica'

Sarajevo (AFP) –


A hero to fellow Bosnian Muslims but a villain to Serbs, the former "defender of Srebrenica" was back in court on Monday for a war crimes retrial after his acquittal was thrown out.

Naser Oric, 51, is feted in Bosnia for commanding the defence of Srebrenica, a Muslim enclave which ultimately fell to Serb forces in 1995 and became the site of a horrific genocide.

Serb forces slaughtered some 8,000 Muslim men and boys in the massacre, the worst atrocity on European soil since World War II.

But Oric was also accused of carrying out attacks on ethnic Serb civilians and prisoners in the area.

In October 2017 he was acquitted by a Sarajevo court of killing three Serb prisoners at the start of the Bosnian war.

The ruling was overturned in June for procedural reasons.

The first witness will be heard on September 17, according to the site, which tracks war crimes trials.

Serbian victims' associations were outraged over his acquittal last year. They estimate that more than 2,000 Serbs were killed in the Srebrenica area during the 1992-1995 war.

Oric, who has since remade himself as a businessman according to local media, is one of only a few Bosnian Muslim commanders to face trial for atrocities committed against Serbs.

He was arrested in Switzerland in 2015 on a Serbian warrant but extradited to his country to face charges.

The move followed his 2008 acquittal on appeal by a UN war crimes court for not doing enough to protect Srebrenica's Serb population during the war.