Former Bosnian military commander Naser Oric, hailed by supporters as the heroic "defender of Srebrenica," was acquitted Friday by a local court of war crimes during the country's 1990s conflict.
"Naser Oric and [his fellow fighter] Sabahudin Muhic are acquitted of charges of having committed during the war ... crimes against prisoners," judge Tihomir Lukes said.
The two men were on trial on charges that they killed three Serb prisoners in the Srebrenica area at the start of the 1992-95 war, which pitted the country's Serb, Muslim and Croat communities against each other.
Oric, 51, is celebrated by fellow Bosnian Muslims for commanding the defense of Srebrenica, where some 8,000 Muslim men and boys were slaughtered in a 1995 massacre that was the worst atrocity on European soil since World War II.
Bosnian Muslim military figures have already been tried and condemned in Bosnia for crimes committed during the inter-ethnic conflict, but none of them had Oric's aura or importance.
For years, perpetrators in the most serious cases were tried by the Hague-based UN tribunal set up after the 1990s conflicts in former Yugoslavia. Those judges overwhelmingly convicted Serbs in the Bosnian war: 52 in total, compared to 17 Croats and six Bosnian Muslims, according to a count by local media.