A war crimes tribunal dropped all charges Monday against a Bosnian Serb accused of murder and torture, saying it was a case of mistaken identity.
It's the first time the tribunal has withdrawn charges against any of the 58 people it has indicted in the former Yugoslavia.The three-judge panel ordered Goran Lajic, 28, freed imme-di-ate-ly.
Lajic was accused of being on the staff of the Keraterm camp, which housed thousands of Bosnian Muslims and Croats in a former ceramics factory in northwest Bosnia in 1992.
Lajic was arrested in Germany in March and turned over to the tribunal after his name and birth date were found to match those of a Goran Lajic indicted in July 1995 for killing at least five detainees at the camp and torturing others.
During his arraignment last month, he pleaded not guilty to all charges and told the tribunal it had arrested the wrong Gora Lajic. He said he had "never set eyes" on the Keraterm camp near Prijedor in northwestern Bosnia.
"Goran Lajic is a frequent name in Bosnia and Herzegovina. I offered to confront the witnesses, but that wasn't possible," Lajic told the court.
According to the prosecution's motion to dismiss the charges, nine out of 10 witnesses - all Keraterm detainees - were unable to identify Lajic from a photo lineup.
Only one witness said he was 90 percent sure the suspect in custody was the guard or interrogator Lajic who committed atrocities at the camp.
The indictment alleged that Keraterm's prisoners were routinely killed, sexually assaulted, tortured and beaten. One victim was allegedly beaten by Lajic and other guards and forced to lie on broken glass. The man died after 10 days of torture, according to the indictment.
The tribunal's reversal underscored one of its major problems, identifying the often obscure perpetrators of atrocities committed several years ago.
The only other suspect released by the tribunal was Serb Gen. Djordje Djukic, who was accused of war crimes in connection with the siege of Sarajevo but let go because he was dying of pancreatic cancer. The charges against Djukic were never dropped, and he died last month.