- Croatia - Serbia - United Nations - war crimes
Bosnian Croats and Serbs Monday accused the UN's war crimes court of bias after it handed a three-year sentence to a Muslim ex-commander in Bosnia's 1992-1995 war.
"By the verdict, the Hague tribunal showed once again that justice for Serb victims of civil war remain elusive there," the Bosnian Serb Prime minister Milorad Dodik said in a statement.
His remarks referred to Rasim Delic, sentenced to jail by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) over his soldiers' cruel treatment of Serbian soldiers during the conflict.
"Instead holding just trials and handing down appropriate judgement that would contribute to the reconciliation in this region, the court's verdicts sew discord amongst peoples" in Bosnia, Dodik said.
The abuse of 12 Serbian detainees was allegedly committed by Muslim extremist fighters called the Mujahedin or "holy warriors," who formed a unit (the El Mujahed Detachment or EMD) of the Bosnian army and were comprised in part of foreign volunteers.
Delic was acquitted of charges of murder of Croats and Serbs due to lack of evidence.
The nationalist Croat Democratic Union (HDZ) "is unpleasantly surprised by the verdict of the Hague tribunal which handed down a shamefully mild sentence" against Delic, the party's statement said.
"HDZ is disappointed over the fact that crimes against Croats are not treated the same (as crimes against victims of other nationalities) by the tribunal," it added.
But many Bosnian Muslims believe Delic, 59, to be innocent.
"Delic is not guilty, he defended his country," Ahmo Begovic, a representative of Sarajevo war veterans told AFP.
"The guilt was imposed to him for political reasons. The international community needed to see one of the Bosnian Muslims sentenced for war crimes," he added.
Delic is one of comparatively few Muslims to be indicted by the tribunal, often accused of bias by Serbia, and one of the most senior in the Bosnian military hierarchy to be charged for wartime abuses.