JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel extradited a Bosnian Serb immigrant to Bosnia on Thursday to face genocide charges over his alleged involvement in the 1995 Srebrenica massacre, Israel’s Justice Ministry said.
Aleksandar Cvetkovic, who had lived in Israel since 2006, was arrested in January 2011 on an international warrant after witnesses testified that he participated in the shooting of some 8,000 Muslim men and boys in Europe’s worst atrocity since World War Two.
The extradition was the Jewish state’s first in a genocide case, the ministry said.
Cvetkovic has denied the charges, saying he was merely serving as an army driver when Srebrenica fell to the Serbs during Bosnia’s 1992-95 war.
“It was decided that, in all of the opportunities afforded him, Cvetkovic did not point to any special circumstances that would justify not implementing the extradition order,” the ministry said in a statement.
Cvetkovic’s marriage to a Jewish woman, with whom he has children, helped him to secure Israeli citizenship. A Jerusalem court ruled in 2011 he could be extradited. Israel’s Supreme Court upheld the ruling on appeal, the ministry said.
Officials involved in the case said last year that Cvetkovic would be extradited to a court in Sarajevo, the Bosnian capital, that was set up in 2005 to relieve the burden on the U.N. war crimes tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague.
The two courts have prosecuted dozens of Bosnian Serbs over Srebrenica.
Writing by Dan Williams; Editing by John Stonestreet