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Switzerland urged not to extradite Bosnia's war hero

The Prosecutor's Office of Bosnia and Herzegovina has called on Switzerland to not extradite its citizen, Naser Oric, to Serbia

Switzerland urged not to extradite Bosnia's war hero

SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina 

The Prosecutor's Office of Bosnia and Herzegovina has sent a request to Switzerland to not extradite its citizen and former Bosnian war commander, Naser Oric, to Serbia.

The request of the prosecutor's office came after the Serbian Ministry of Justice submitted a request Sunday for Oric’s extradition.

Bosnian authorities urged Switzerland to return Oric to them instead of sending him to Serbia.

"He is a citizen of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and will be available to judicial authorities, as well as responding to calls of judicial bodies," the Prosecutor's Office of Bosnia said in a written statement Monday.

"The (Bosnia's) Prosecutor's Office is ready to cooperate with the Prosecution for War Crimes in Serbia under the protocol of cooperation for the purpose of prosecution of cases before the courts of Bosnia and Herzegovina," the statement added.

Munira Subasic, president of the Mothers of Srebrenica and Zepa enclaves, a nongovernmental organization, told Anadolu Agency that Bosnia should send a clear warning to Serbia over the incident and cut off diplomatic ties if it moved ahead with the extradition.

"If Naser is extradited to Serbia we demand (from Bosnia) to withdraw its ambassador from Serbia. We, Srebrenica mothers, do not want any kind of contact with Serbia or Switzerland if they extradite Naser," she said, adding: "I urge Bosniak politicians to support the idea of breaking diplomatic ties with Serbia, so that we can show that we will not sit with crossed hands while they are arresting innocent people who defended this country."

She also slammed the Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic after he offered Friday to honor Bosnian genocide victims at the anniversary.

"We do not need Vucic at the commemoration," she said.

According to Vasvija Vidovic, Oric's lawyer in Bosnia, the Interpol warrant for Oric was not valid because Bosnian authorities were opposed to it.

"If one country protests the warrant, other countries cannot arrest the person based on the same warrant. I am very worried about this situation because it has caused anxiety to people [from the Bosnian city of] Srebrenica," Vidovic told Anadolu Agency after Swiss authorities arrested Oric.

"I expect Swiss authorities to realize that they have made a mistake. Apparently they did [make a mistake], because the man [Oric] passed through five states [travelling from Bosnia to Switzerland, during] which [no authority or country] have him arrested. It is obvious that they [Swiss authorities] had him arrested without valid legal basis," she said.

Srebrenica Mayor Camil Durakovic, who was with Oric in Switzerland when his arrest took place, told Anadolu Agency on Sunday that Bosnia must respond.

"The state [of Bosnia] must respond adequately or the consequences will be unpredictable," Durakovic said.

"The situation is alarming. I am afraid of what might happen after the expiry of his detention. I fear of the final decision of the Swiss court... It will be disastrous if we get to July 11 with Nasser being where he is now. Then indeed we cannot guarantee what people can do, especially the people of Srebrenica who apparently are the only ones in this case who have emotions for Naser Oric," he added.

Oric, a former Bosnian brigadier in Srebrenica during the 90s war, was arrested on June 10 in the Swiss city of Berne when he arrived to attend an event to mark the 20th anniversary of Srebrenica genocide on the invitation of the Bosnian diaspora.

His arrest has led to the cancellation of Serbian president’s official visit to the Bosnian capital of Sarajevo.

Although the Appellate Chamber of the Hague Tribunal had acquitted Oric in 2008 on charges of failing to prevent crimes committed against Serbs in 1992 and 1993, Serbia issued an arrest warrant for him in 2014, charging him for the same crimes.

Swiss authorities arrested Oric on the basis of an Interpol warrant issued from Belgrade. His detention was reportedly extended to 14 days.

Serbia's decision to seek Oric's extradition came right after Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic offered to honor Bosnian genocide victims at the 20th anniversary of Srebrenica genocide.

Oric is known in Bosnia for commanding the Army of the Republic of Bosnia forces in Srebrenica enclave in eastern Bosnia during the 1992-1995 Bosnian War.

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