Srebrenica case: suspected Muslim commander innocent, court says

Some Serbs believe misdeeds by Oric's troops in the Srebrenica area in the early years of the 1992-95 Bosnia war provoked the July 1995 slaughter of more than 8,000 Muslims by the Bosnian Serb army - Europe's worst civilian massacre since the Holocaust.

In closing arguments in April, prosecutors sought an 18-year prison sentence. The defense asked for an acquittal on all remaining counts. The judges are not bound by the recommendations.

Before Yugoslavia's tumultuous breakup, Oric was a police officer who once served as a bodyguard to former Serb leader Slobodan Milosevic. Milosevic, accused of genocide and war crimes, died in his prison cell in The Hague in March before his trial was completed.

In April 1992, Oric raised a militia to drive out Serb paramilitaries who had captured Srebrenica, establishing a Muslim enclave in the largely Serb-held area in eastern Bosnia. Thousands of Muslims from surrounding villages fled to Srebrenica for safety, the AP reports.

During the Serb siege, Oric's fighters broke through weak spots in the Serbian front lines and raided Serb villages to get weapons and food to the enclave's starving inhabitants. Serb civilians were killed and some 50 villages burned.

Oric was replaced as Srebrenica commander just a few weeks before the Serbs overran the enclave in 1995, after it had become a U.N-declared safe zone protected by Dutch U.N. forces.

According to Oric's indictment, his troops severely beat Serb civilians, sometimes bludgeoning them to death.