Serbia to appeal British rejection of Ganic extradition

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Serbia will appeal a British court's decision to reject Belgrade's bid to extradite former Bosnian president Ejup Ganic on war crimes charges, an official said Tuesday.

"We respect every decision by the British court but there is a right to appeal to a higher court and we will use that right," Bruno Vekaric, spokesman for Serbia's war crimes prosecutor office, told AFP by phone.

But in Bosnia, the Croat member of Bosnia's tripartite presidency Zeljko Komsic hailed Tuesday's court's ruling, saying it was a "right decision."

"A politics of a 'Greater Serbia' has been inflicted another defeat, notably since all arguments of the Serb side were rejected and all arguments of defence accepted," a statement from Komsic's office said.

Earlier, the court in London rejected Belgrade's request to hand over Ganic, 64, five months after he was arrested in Britain, allowing him to return to Bosnia.

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.

Ganic is accused by Serbia of involvement in the alleged killing of 18 soldiers in a Yugoslav army convoy in 1992, at the start of the bloody war in Bosnia.

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, and concluded that there was no basis on which to bring such charges.

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

© 2010 AFP

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