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Serbian 'war criminal' can stay in UK

An alleged Serbian war criminal arrested in Britain and wanted on numerous charges including "grave breaches" of the Geneva Convention was last night released without charge.

Mile Bosnic, 54, is wanted for trial in Croatia for the mass murder, torture and imprisonment of Croats during the Balkan conflict when he was a Serb Democratic Party leader.

He was arrested in Gloucester by officers from Scotland Yard's extradition unit last month and remanded in custody. Bosnic had been expected to appear in court on 29 April and a two-hour extradition hearing had been set for 18 May. But last night the Home Office said that a judge in Croatia had discontinued the investigation on 2 April and that Mr Bosnic had been subsequently "released from extradition custody".

Officials would not comment on the reasons for the decision, but a local news agency in Bosnia cited a case of mistaken identity. "The county court in Karlovac, Croatia concluded that the wrong person was arrested by UK police on March 25," BalkanInsight.com reported. "The Mile Bosnic who was arrested left Croatia in 1999 with a Croatian passport and sought asylum in the UK but has not been granted such status to date."

A spokeswoman for the Home Office last night said she did not have any information relating to a case of mistaken identity.

Bosnic is accused of ordering the killing of civilians, expelling Croats from the municipality of Slunj and establishing a jail where he imprisoned and tortured others between November 1991 and December 1992.