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Bosnia court won't detain convicted war criminals before new trials

Source: Reuters - Thu, 5 Dec 2013 03:10 PM
Author: Reuters
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SARAJEVO, Dec 5 (Reuters) - Bosnia's war crimes court on Thursday declined a prosecutor's request to detain nine convicted Bosnian Serb war criminals who were released last month pending new trials, angering survivors of the 1995 Srebrenica massacre.

The court freed 10 such convicts after the European Court of Human Rights (ECoHR) ruled last July in a separate case that the legal rights of two of them were violated due to the application of a criminal code more stringent than the one in force when the crimes were committed.

The 10 prisoners, convicted for the Srebrenica massacre and other offences during Bosnia's 1992-95 war, complained on the same grounds to Bosnia's Constitutional Court. It then quashed their verdicts, returned their cases to the war crimes tribunal and ordered it to deliver new verdicts within three months.

The war crimes court said in a statement the request for detention was legally unfounded. It will decide on the detention request for the 10th man on Friday.

The decision infuriated survivors and families of some of the 8,000 Muslims killed by separatist Serb forces in the eastern Bosnian town of Srebrenica.

"Our lives and the lives of our families have been put in jeopardy," said Munira Subasic, head of the Mothers of Srebrenica group. "None of us will testify as witnesses at war crimes trials anymore."

The 1995 killing of thousands of Muslim men and boys by Bosnian Serb forces is regarded as the worst atrocity committed on European soil since World War Two.

The Sarajevo war crimes court was set up in 2005 to reduce the workload of the United Nations war crimes tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in the Hague.

The Bosnian Serb wartime military commander, General Ratko Mladic, and political leader Radovan Karadzic remain on trial in The Hague on charges including genocide in Srebrenica.

(Reporting by Daria Sito-Sucic; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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