October 19, 2015 / 2:49 PM / 4 years ago

Serb charged over wartime crimes against hundreds in Bosnian town

SARAJEVO (Reuters) - A Bosnian Serb civilian official during the 1992-95 war was indicted on Monday of war crimes against hundreds of Bosnian Muslims and Croats, including murders, torture, persecution and robbery.

Thousands of non-Serbs were killed and tens of thousands driven from their homes or detained in camps around the strategic town of Brcko during a Bosnian Serb campaign to “ethnically cleanse” the area early in the Bosnian war.

Djordje Ristanic was head of the Brcko War Presidency from May to December 1992 and controlled military, police and paramilitary units that committed the crimes there, said a spokesman for Bosnia’s special prosecutor for war crimes.

“The defendant is charged with war crimes committed against several hundred Bosniak (Bosnian Muslim) and Croat victims ... who were illegally arrested and detained in several camps and detention facilities in the Brcko area,” Boris Grubesic told reporters.

Detained civilians were murdered, tortured, beaten, raped and humiliated, he said, adding the indictment also included charges of the large-scale robbery of the property of non-Serbs from Brcko.

Ristanic had been investigated by the United Nations war crimes tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague and his case was forwarded to the Bosnian state court, Grubesic said.

Ristanic was arrested in May but then released subject to restrictions on his movements.

The Hague-based tribunal has jailed Bosnian Serb soldiers Goran Jelisic and Ranko Cisic for 40 years and 18 years respectively over war crimes in Brcko.

Bosnian Muslim wartime commander Naser Oric pleaded not guilty in the Bosnian state court on Monday to the killing of three Serb prisoners early in the conflict.

Reporting by Daria Sito-Sucic; Editing by Andrew Roche

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