Naser Orić

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Naser Orić
Naser Oric.jpg
Born (1967-03-03) 3 March 1967 (age 47)
Potočari, Srebrenica, SR Bosnia and Herzegovina, Yugoslavia
Allegiance Bosnia and Herzegovina Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina
Years of service 1992–95
Rank Brigadier
Unit 28th Division (2nd Corps)
Commands held Commander in Srebrenica
Battles/wars Bosnian War

Naser Orić (born 3 March 1967) a former Bosniak military officer who commanded Army of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina (ARBiH) forces in the Srebrenica enclave in eastern Bosnia surrounded by Bosnian Serb forces, during the Bosnian War. In 2006, he was sentenced to two years' imprisonment by the Trial Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in the Netherlands for failing to prevent the deaths of five and the mistreatment of eleven Bosnian Serb detainees during the period from late 1992 to early 1993 on the basis of superior criminal responsibility.[1] He was acquitted on the other charges of wanton destruction and causing damage to civilian infrastructure beyond the realm of military necessity. On 3 July 2008, the Appeals Chamber of the ICTY reversed the Trial Chamber's conviction and acquitted Orić of all charges brought against him.[2][3]

Early life[edit]

Naser Orić was born on 3 March 1967 in a small village located about 3 kilometres (1.9 mi) from the town of Srebrenica.[4] His grandfather had fought with the Ustaše, a Croatian fascist movement, during World War II.[5][6] Orić was left jobless in his youth despite graduating from high school with a metalworking certificate.[6]

Career[edit]

Orić was conscripted into the Yugoslav People's Army (JNA) in 1985/1986, where he served in a special unit for atomic and chemical defence. He left the JNA with the rank of corporal.[4] In 1988, he completed a six-month training course in Zemun and served in Savski Venac in Belgrade as a trainee policeman. As a member of the police unit for special actions, he had courses for two more years. In 1990, Naser Orić was deployed to Kosovo as a member of a Special Police unit of the Ministry of the Interior of the Republic of Serbia. Thereafter, he returned to Belgrade, where he became a bodyguard to Slobodan Milošević. He worked in quelling the civil unrest during the March 1991 mass anti-war protests, arresting Vuk Drašković. During that time he also worked as a bouncer at the famous Belgrade night club Metro (ex Zvezda) in Knez Mihailova Street. In August 1991, Orić was transferred to a police station in Ilidža, on the outskirts of Sarajevo, Bosnia. He was moved to the police station in Srebrenica in late 1991 and in April 1992 he became the police chief of the Potočari police sub-station.[citation needed]

Territorial Defence (April 1992–September 1992)[edit]

With the disintegration of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, a cadre staff consisting of former JNA officers began to prepare for the defence of Bosnia and Herzegovina. On 8 April 1992, the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina transformed the existing Socialist Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina TO (Territorial Defence) into the TO of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

In mid-April 1992, the Potočari TO was established, and Orić became its Commander. In May 1992, members of the Crisis Staff of the TO Srebrenica appointed him as the Commander, which Sefer Halilovic, Chief of the Supreme Command Staff of the Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina (ABiH), officially confirmed in June. Orić also became a member of the War Presidency in Srebrenica upon its creation on 1 July.

ICTY war crimes trial[edit]

After the Dayton Peace Accords, Orić opened a fitness club in Tuzla. In a post-war TV interview, he stated "It's a fact that I was one of the main commanders in Srebrenica and, if I have to answer to someone, I'll answer; but I'd first have to bring up the time, space and situation in which we lived, as well as what the Serbs did to us compared to what we did to them. If Naser has to answer to someone, I'm right here and I'm not running away from responsibility, I'm not running away from the court, I'm not running away from the Hague or anyone. You just have to call on me and no problem."[3]

An indictment at the ICTY against Orić was submitted on 17 March 2003 and confirmed on 28 March. He was indicted on two counts of individual responsibility and four counts of command responsibility for violations of the laws or customs of war, and was arrested without further incident at his club by SFOR on 10 April 2003 and transferred to the Hague the next day.

Orić appeared before the court on 15 April and pleaded "not guilty" to all the counts of the indictment. He was denied a provisional release on 25 July 2003 and was held at the ICTY from 11 April 2003 until 30 June 2006.

The indictment[edit]

Orić was accused of torture and cruel treatment of eleven and killing of seven Serb men being detained in the Srebrenica police station in 1992/1993, and to punish the perpetrators thereof.

He was also accused of having ordered (and led) numerous guerilla raids into as many as 50 Serb-populated villages in 1992-1993, particularly in the municipalities of Bratunac and Srebrenica. In the course of such combat activities, Bosnian Serb buildings, dwellings, and other property in predominantly Serb villages, were burnt and destroyed, hundreds of Serbs were murdered and thousands of Serb individuals fled the area.[4]

The trial[edit]

The trial began on 6 October 2004 and the prosecution completed its case on 1 June 2005. A week later the tribunal dropped two of the counts against him, withdrew all allegation of plundering public and private property; the tribunal also dropped two villages from the list of alleged raids.[7] The defense case commenced on 4 July 2005 and ended on 10 April 2006. The prosecution asked for an eighteen-year prison term, while the defense asked for an acquittal. In all there were 182 trial days, 82 witnesses testifying (52 prosecution and 20 defense) and 1,649 exhibits presented as evidence. The decision in the case was delivered on 30 June 2006. .[8]

The verdict[edit]

The International Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) convicted Naser Orić for failing to prevent the murder and inhumane treatment of Serb prisoners. Orić, sentenced to two years in prison,[9] was released immediately for time already served. He was acquitted of direct involvement in the murder or cruel treatment of Serbs, and of responsibility for the "wanton destruction" of homes and property.[10]

The judges noted that militarily superior Serb forces encircled the town and that there was an unmanageable influx of refugees there, as well as a critical shortage of food and the breakdown of law and order. The judges also noted that it was in these circumstances that Orić, then aged 25, was elected commander of a poorly trained volunteer force that lacked effective links with government forces in Sarajevo. His authority was scorned by some other Bosnian leaders and his situation became worse as the Serb forces increased the momentum of their siege.[11]

The judges stated in the verdict that Orić had reason to know about murder and cruel treatment of Serbs on two specific occasions in the Police station, but acquitted him of all other crimes. Orić was acquitted of direct involvement in the murder of prisoners in the early years of the 1992-95 Bosnia war. But the court found he had closed his eyes to their mistreatment and failed to punish their killers. The three judges acquitted him of all charges related to the wanton destruction of Serb villages. The judges also took into account the lack of food and supplies and resulting lack of order and law during the Serbian siege on Srebrenica.[11]

As for the destruction in the villages of Kravica, Bjelovac, Fakovići and Sikirić, the judgment states that "the Accused and members of his group of fighters participated in the attack". In the case of the village of Šiljkovići, the court states that "there is evidence to establish that property was destroyed on a large scale."[12]

The appeal[edit]

On 31 July 2006 UN chief prosecutor Carla del Ponte announced that she would appeal against the two-year sentence, saying it was too short. Orić's lawyer said she would also launch an appeal, saying her client did not commit any crime and should be acquitted.[13][14][15][16]

Post-ICTY release[edit]

Since Orić had already spent more than two years in detention, following his trial he was released. He arrived at Sarajevo International Airport on 1 July 2006.

On 4 July, he gave an interview to the Sarajevo daily Dnevni Avaz in which he stated among other things that the atmosphere in the ICTY detention unit was jovial and that there was no hostility between the inmates who were former war time adversaries. Orić said that he was most friendly with Gen. Enver Hadžihasanović, Lahi Brahimaj and Isak Musliu and he also reported having a friendly relationship with Ante Gotovina. Orić said that he passed the time by working out and learning the English language. He also stated that he believed that the behavior of an indictee in the detention unit and in the courtroom would reflect the severity of the prison term one would receive.

Naser Orić was arrested on 3 October 2008 by Bosnian police.[17] He was charged in November 2008 with extorting 240,000 Bosnian Marks ($157,000) and illegal possession of weapons and ammunition.[18]

On 2 February 2014 Interpol National Central Bureau for Serbia issued an arrest warrant for Naser Orić at the request of the Serbian Justice Ministry on suspicion of war crimes against civilian populations in the villages around the Srebrenica municipality in July 1992. [19][20]

References[edit]

  1. ^ ICTY. "Prosecutor vs Naser Orić , Judgment". United Nations. 30 June 2006. [1]
  2. ^ Srebrenica Muslim chief cleared, BBC News, 3 July 2008
  3. ^ UN appeals court acquits Bosnian Muslim war hero, Associated Press/Google News, 3 July 2008[dead link]
  4. ^ a b Bartrop, Paul (2012). A Biographical Encyclopedia of Contemporary Genocide. Santa Barbara, California: ABC-CLIO. p. 248. ISBN 978-0-313-38679-4. 
  5. ^ Central Intelligence Agency (2002). Balkan Battlegrounds: A Military History of the Yugoslav Conflict, 1990–1995. Washington, D.C.: Office of Russian and European Analysis. p. 342. ISBN 978-0-16-066472-4. OCLC 50396958. 
  6. ^ a b Mann, Michael (2005). The Dark Side of Democracy: Explaining Ethnic Cleansing. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 417. Retrieved 14 February 2014. 
  7. ^ SENSE Tribunal : ICTY
  8. ^ http://iwpr.gn.apc.org/?s=f&o=163810&apc_state=henitri2004 Naser Oric Tiral-False Witness Accounts- War and Peace Reporting
  9. ^ Naser Orić Convicted
  10. ^ "Bosnian Muslim guilty but freed". BBC News. 2006-06-30. Retrieved 2010-05-19. 
  11. ^ a b ICTY Press release -
  12. ^ [2]
  13. ^ JURIST - Paper Chase: ICTY prosecutor appeals light sentence for Bosnian Muslim war criminal
  14. ^ "Bosnian Muslim sentence contested". BBC News. 2006-07-30. Retrieved 2010-05-19. 
  15. ^ Hague prosecutors appeal Orić's sentence (SETimes.com)
  16. ^ SENSE Tribunal : ICTY
  17. ^ http://www.b92.net/eng/news/region-article.php?yyyy=2008&mm=10&dd=03&nav_id=53961
  18. ^ http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/LE361169.htm
  19. ^ http://www.tuzilastvorz.org.rs/html_trz/VESTI_SAOPSTENJA_2014/VS_2014_01_29_ENG.pdf
  20. ^ http://www.tanjug.rs/news/115696/serbia-issues-international-warrant-for-orics-arrest--.htm

External links[edit]