British court rejects bid to extradite Bosnia ex-leader

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A British court on Tuesday rejected a bid by Serbia to extradite former Bosnian president Ejup Ganic on war crimes charges, declaring the case "political" and criticising Belgrade for bringing it.

Ganic, 64, smiled and his son and daughter hugged and sobbed as District Judge Timothy Workman declared the Bosnian ex-leader free to return to his home country, five months after he was arrested as Serbia sought his extradition.

"These proceeedings are brought and are being used for political purposes and as such amount to an abuse of the process of this court," Workman told the London hearing.

"I have concluded that there is no valid justification for commencing proceedings against Dr. Ganic," he said.

The Serbian authorities had sought Ganic's extradition on charges of ordering a series of atrocities in Sarajevo in May 1992, at the outset of the three-and-a-half year Bosnian war.

The judge told the central London court that no significant new evidence had emerged since two previous investigations, one of them by the UN war crimes court for the former Yugoslavia, concluded that there was no basis on which to bring such charges.

© 2010 AFP

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