UN tribunal upholds top Bosnian Muslim's acquittal

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AMSTERDAM, Oct 16 (Reuters) The UN war crimes tribunal confirmed the acquittal of Bosnian Muslim commander Sefer Halilovic today, rejecting a prosecution appeal that he be convicted of murder for a massacre of Bosnian Croats.

Halilovic is one of a handful of Bosnian Muslims to stand trial for alleged war crimes committed during the 1992-95 Bosnian war. His acquittal in 2005 angered Bosnian Croat war veterans and Serbs, who accused the court of bias.

The appeals chamber dismissed the prosecution's allegation that Halilovic exercised effective control over troops who killed 13 Bosnian Croat civilians during an operation aimed at ending a blockade of the southern city of Mostar in 1993.

Halilovic, 55, who was the Muslim-led army's chief of staff at the time, pleaded not guilty after he turned himself in 2001.

He reported to Rasim Delic, the former head of the Bosnian Muslim army, who went on trial in July accused of allowing the rape, torture and murder of dozens of Croats and Serbs by his troops and foreign Islamic fighters.

Bosnia's Muslims and Croats began the war as allies against the Serbs but then fought each other for territory.

REUTERS GL PM1930

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