Bosnian president 'threatened' by US-based Serbs

SARAJEVO - The Muslim member of Bosnia's tripartite presidency, Sulejman Tihic, has received a death threat in a letter allegedly from US-based Serb nationalists, his cabinet said Monday.

The threat to assassinate Tihic, Bosnian Muslim war crimes convict Naser Oric, and both their children was contained in a letter bearing a postage stamp from the US city of Chicago, Tihic's cabinet said in a statement.

"You will be executed, both you and Naser Oric, and your children," the statement quoted the letter as saying.

It alleged the letter had been sent "by Serb nationalists", adding that Bosnian security services had been alerted about the matter.

On June 30, Oric, a former Muslim military chief, was sentenced to two years in prison by the UN war crimes court for failing to prevent his forces from mistreating and killing Serb prisoners.

But he was immediately released because he had already been in custody for more than three years.

UN war crimes prosecutors have since appealed against the sentence, saying it was insufficient.

Tensions have risen in Bosnia after the broadcast of footage last week showing another wartime Muslim commander, Atif Dudakovic, ordering his troops to burn down Serb villages during the country's 1992-1995 war.

The leaders of Bosnia's Serb entity, Republika Srpska, have since filed war crimes charges against Dudakovic, who lives in the other half of the country, the Muslim-Croat Federation.

Last Friday, the grave containing former Bosnian Muslim president Alija Izetbegovic was severely damaged in an explosion.

Izetbegovic, who died at the age of 78 in October 2003, is seen as a hero by most Muslims for leading Bosnia to independence in 1992, a move that triggered the three-and-a-half year conflict between Muslims, Serbs and Croats.

Upon his death, the UN war crimes tribunal said it had been investigating Serb allegations that Izetbegovic had committed war crimes during the Bosnian conflict, but no charges were ever pressed against him.

08/14/2006 14:24 GMT

Copyright © 2006