Former Bosnian army commander Naser Oric will be extradited to Bosnia and Herzegovina following an order from the Swiss Federal Office of Justice (FOJ) on Thursday.
“Oric stated at the hearing on this request that he agreed to be extradited to Bosnia and Herzegovina. This permitted the FOJ to approve the extradition immediately in simplified proceedings,” the FOJ said in a statement.
Oric’s extradition was initially requested by Serbia, who had issued a warrant for his arrest last year accusing him of the murder of 9 Serb civilians in Srebrenica in July 1992. Swiss authorities arrested Oric on the 10th of June on this Serbian warrant, but on Monday, the Prosecutors Office of Bosnia and Herzegovina called on Switzerland not to extradite Oric, a Bosnian citizen, to Serbia. The Bosnian authorities urged Switzerland to return Oric to them instead.
According to the FOJ, “The decisive points here are the same criminal acts on which both requests are based were committed in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and that Oric is a citizen of Bosnia and Herzegovina.”
During the 1992-1995 war, Naser Oric was the commander of Muslim Bosniak forces in the Srebrenica region of Bosnia. The region fell to Bosnian Serbs in July 1995 and 8,000 Muslim men and boys were killed by Serb forces.
Srebrenica mayor Camil Durakovic, who was with Oric when he was arrested in Switzerland, told media that Many Srebrenica survivors view Oric as a heroic figure who was “the commander of the defence of the surviving victims of genocide”. His arrest at the beginning of June had caused protests in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
In June 2006, the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) convicted Naser Oric to two years in prison for failing to prevent murder and cruel treatment of Serb prisoners in Srebrenica between late 1992 and early 1993. He was released immediately, as he had already spent three years in custody.
On appeal, Oric was acquitted of all charges, as the Appeals Chamber held that there was a lack of evidence establishing beyond reasonable doubt that Oric was individually responsible for the crimes against Serb detainees.