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Serbia asks Switzerland to extradite former Bosnian commander

Serbia has formally asked Switzerland to extradite wartime Bosniak commander Naser Oric, who is wanted for alleged war crimes in 1992. Oric was arrested in Geneva earlier this month.

"The extradition request is accompanied by documents from the prosecutor over the suspected war crimes" allegedly committed by Oric, Serbian Justice Minister Nikola Selakovic said, according to state news agency Tanjug. It's not yet clear whether Swiss authorities will comply with the request.

Belgrade has accused Oric and four other individuals of murdering ethnic Serbs near Sarajevo in July 1992.

Oric led Bosnian Muslim forces in the country's eastern Srebrenica region during the 1992-1995 Bosnian war.

Srebrenica fell to Bosnian Serbs in July 1995, and more than 8,000 mainly Muslim men and boys were slaughtered there in the days that followed.

Oric had been found guilty by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia of failing to prevent the murder and mistreatment of Serbian prisoners, but he was later acquitted of all charges due to insufficient evidence.

Swiss police arrested Oric in Geneva on June 10, acting on a warrant issued by Serbia in February 2014. The arrest sparked an outcry from Muslim Bosniaks, many of whom see him as a hero.

Serbia's decision to seek Oric's extradition just three weeks ahead of the 20th anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre could risk worsening relations between the two countries. It could also derail plans by Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic to attend commemoration events in Bosnia on July 11.

Vucic, a former hard-line nationalist, said Friday he was ready to attend the Srebrenica anniversary and "pay my respects" to the victims, provided Bosnia wanted him there.

nm/cmk (AFP, Reuters)

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