Bosnian Muslims say to appeal 'Serb biased ruling' on burnt mosques

The Islamic community says 618 mosques were destroyed in Bosnia in the war, 90 of them in the Banja Luka area.

Bosnian Muslims say to appeal 'Serb biased ruling' on burnt mosques

A district court in the Bosnian Serb capital has overturned a ruling ordering the town to pay $50 million to its Islamic community for 16 mosques demolished during the 1992-95 war.

The Banja Luka mosques, including the 15th century Arnaudija and 16th century Ferhadija, were blown up and torched by Serbs during overnight curfews during the war, although there was no fighting in the town.

The Ferhadija Mosque, regarded as one of the finest outside the Arab world, was on the UNESCO list of World Heritage sites and is being rebuilt, with some of funding coming from the government in Banja Luka.

A local magistrate in Banja Luka decided in February to grant compensation to the Islamic community after eight years.

The first such ruling in Bosnia was hailed as 'historic' by the country's Muslims, who suffered the biggest human and material losses of the former Yugoslav republic's three main ethnic groups during the war in which about 100,000 were killed.

"Serb judiciary biased"

But Banja Luka district court overturned the ruling on Thursday in favour of the Republika Srpska, a Serb-dominated region of Bosnia, and the town of Banja Luka, said the region's general attorney Slobodan Radulj.

The Islamic community lawyer Esad Hrvacic said he had not received the ruling yet but made clear that the community would appeal to the region's supreme court and perhaps even to the state constitutional court.

"After the first-instance ruling, we thought the judiciary in Republika Srpska had improved and become just and unbiased," Hrvacic told Reuters. "But it seems that its independence has been jeopardised at higher levels."

The Islamic community says 618 mosques were destroyed in Bosnia in the war, 90 of them in the Banja Luka area. Only 5,000 Muslims live in Banja Luka now, down from 30,000 before the war.

The Bosnian war ended after the 1995 Dayton peace accords, leaving the country as an international protectorate and divided between two entities, the Serb Republic and the Muslim-Croat federation.


Reuters

Güncelleme Tarihi: 06 Kasım 2009, 16:44
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