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Thursday, 2 August, 2001, 15:13 GMT 16:13 UK
Q&A: Srebrenica massacre
Bosnian Serb General Radislav Krstic, jailed for atrocities committed in the Muslim enclave of Srebrenica, was the first to be found guilty of a charge of genocide at the International War Crimes Tribunal at The Hague. BBC News Online explains the background to the trial and the prospects for others similarly indicted.

What happened at Srebrenica?

More than 7,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys were murdered after the town of Srebrenica fell to Bosnian Serb forces, commanded by Krstic, in the summer of 1995.

The women, children and old men living in the town were deported.

Srebrenica was supposed to be a UN-designated safe area but UN forces in the town proved unable or unwilling to help its Muslim population.

Just how important is Krstic?

General Krstic is the highest-ranking Bosnian Serb to go in the dock at The Hague - and the case of Srebrenica is widely regarded as the most tragic episode in the wave of ethnic cleansing that engulfed Bosnia-Hercegovina during the war of 1992-95.

The massacre is regarded as Europe's worst atrocity since World War II and the verdict is a landmark ruling because it is the tribunal's first conviction for genocide.

What was the general's role?

As deputy commander of the Bosnian Serb army's Drina corps, he was involved in the planning and execution of the military campaign that led to the capture of Srebrenica on 11 July 1995. He was appointed corps commander on or just before 14 July - during the time when Muslim men and boys were being taken away to be killed.

What were the specific charges against Krstic?

General Krstic was accused of planning, preparing and carrying out the killings of thousands of captured Muslim men; failing to punish any of those in his charge who committed the murders - whether as part of organised mass executions or as opportunistic killings of victims attempting to flee; and of organising the digging up of mass graves and the reburial of corpses in secondary graves in an attempt to remove evidence of the atrocities.

He was found guilty of genocide, extermination, murder, persecution and forced transfer of civilians.

But was not Bosnian Serb military commander General Ratko Mladic in overall control of operations?

General Mladic - who has also been indicted over Srebrenica - made a point of going there to oversee operations in the captured enclave and accept the surrender of the Dutch UN peackeepers. There is much television footage showing him in Srebrenica at the time.

But in July 1995 the Bosnian Serbs' wartime leader, Radovan Karadzic publicly singled out General Krstic for praise, saying that he was a "great commander" and had done "an extraordinary job".

During his trial, General Krstic said that the orders were given by other generals, including Ratko Mladic.

Does the genocide verdict mean Mr Karadzic and General Mladic will now be sent to The Hague?

Both men are already indicted and tribunal spokesman Jim Landale says it is now even more determined to put them before the court.

He said evidence produced at the trial of General Krstic - from exhumed bodies, shell cases and blindfolds - is likely to feature in the trial of others.

But arresting Mr Karadzic and Mr Mladic has not been easy as both men went into hiding.

Until recently, there has not been the political will to arrest them. The international community feared their arrest would further destabilise the Balkans, while the US in particular baulked at the prospect of potential casualties.

What did General Krstic say in his defence?

He denied the charges and plans an appeal.

Mr Krstic's defence lawyers say that he was elsewhere at the time of the Srebrencia massacre, preparing for the capture of the Muslim enclave at Zepa.

The trial chamber supported General Krstic's assertion that the orders to kill Bosnian Muslim men of fighting age were issued by others and not by him.


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16 Nov 99 | Europe
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