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Bosnia’s ex-defence minister charged in POW murder case

A Bosnian military commander and former defence minister was charged on Thursday over alleged war crimes linked to the murder of Croat prisoners of war, a Sarajevo-based tribunal said. The official was the latest in a long line of former military commanders and combatants tried for crimes committed during Bosnia’s civil war in the 1990s that saw roughly 100,000 people killed. Selmo Cikotic was charged on allegations of “not having done all within his responsibilities to prevent the crimes” the court said in a statement. The indictment is linked to Cikotic’s alleged role in the killing of between 23 and 26 ethnic Croat prisoners of war in July 1993 near the central Bosnian town of Bugojno. During that time, Cikotic commanded several Bosnian army brigades made up mainly of Bosnian Muslims. According to court documents, the Croat prisoners of war were first tortured before being executed by military police forces. Cikotic was also charged with using the prisoners as forced labour. After serving as a brigade commander, Cikotic held a litany of official positions over the years. Those posts included serving as military attache at Bosnia’s embassy in Washington and later the country’s defence minister from 2007 to 2012. He was also security minister from 2020 to January 2023. In December, he was sentenced to three years in prison for abuse of power over his role in a scheme involving the sale of weapons.

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