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Hague Tribunal Orders Release of Convicted Bosnian Croat War Criminal

The United Nations war crimes tribunal has ordered the immediate release of Mario Cerkez, a former Bosnian Croat commander convicted of atrocities against Muslim civilians in 1993.

The tribunal's appeals chamber said Thursday that a revision of Cerkez' sentence is necessary, but added it will give the reasons for its release order on December 17.

Analysts told the French news agency, AFP, the release order could mean that the tribunal has decided to reduce Cerkez' sentence from 15 years to time already served.

In 2001, the tribunal convicted Cerkez and another defendant, Dario Kordic, of leading a campaign of ethnic cleansing that virtually emptied parts of central Bosnia-Herzegovina of its Muslim population. Both men pleaded not guilty and appealed their convictions.

Mr. Cerkez surrendered to the tribunal in 1997.

Some information for this report provided by AFP and AP.