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Last Updated: Sunday, 30 July 2006, 23:24 GMT 00:24 UK
Bosnian Muslim sentence contested
Naser Oric
Oric is considered a hero to many Bosnian Muslims
Prosecutors at the UN war crimes tribunal in The Hague have appealed against a sentence given to a former Bosnian Muslim commander in Srebrenica.

Naser Oric, 39, was convicted by the tribunal of failing to prevent men under his command killing and mistreating Bosnian Serb prisoners.

The incidents took place in around 50 Serb villages between 1992 and 1993.

Mr Oric was sentenced to two years in jail in June, but was immediately freed as he had already served three years.

A spokesperson for UN chief prosecutor Carla del Ponte said today the sentence was too short.

"She signed a notice of appeal with the court's appeal chamber on Friday ... We don't agree with the sentence," said Anton Nikiforov.

At the time of the trial, the prosecution had demanded an 18-year prison sentence, claiming Mr Oric was a warlord who plundered a starving Serb community that was pleading for help.

He commanded troops that destroyed 50 Serb villages around the town between 1992 and 1993, causing thousands of Bosnian Serbs to flee.

Counter appeal

Mr Oric's lawyer had said she would also launch an appeal, saying her client did not commit any crime and should be acquitted.

The ex-bodyguard to former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic is one of only a few Bosnian Muslims to have faced trial for atrocities committed against Serbs.

Correspondents say many Bosnian Muslims regard him as a hero, and believe the decision to prosecute him was made to counter complaints by Serbs that the tribunal was biased against them.

Mr Oric's crimes took place well before the 1995 Bosnian Serb massacre of nearly 8,000 Srebrenica Muslims.

Timeline: Bosnia-Hercegovina
15 Mar 06 |  Country profiles
New Srebrenica mass grave found
17 Oct 05 |  Europe

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