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Tuesday, 16 April, 2002, 10:49 GMT 11:49 UK
Bosnian Serb mayor tried for genocide
The Trnopolje detention camp
Trnopolje: Inmates were starved and abused
The trial has opened at the international war crimes tribunal in The Hague of a former Bosnian Serb mayor charged with genocide for his alleged role in setting up three wartime detention camps in Bosnia.

Stakic organised and supported the municipal government structures that led a campaign of persecution directed against the non-Serb population

Tribunal indictment
Milomir Stakic, 40, was the first man to be handed over to the war crimes tribunal by the Yugoslav authorities, in March 2001.

He has pleaded innocent to eight counts of genocide, crimes against humanity and violations of the laws and customs of war.

He claims he was a "puppet" in the hands of his superiors, who used his signature to cover their tracks.

Murder and abuse

The indictment links Mr Stakic, to the Omarska, Keraterm and Trnopolje camps, the most notorious of 39 detention facilities set up in 1992 as Bosnian Serbs took power in north-western Bosnia.

Map of Bosnia
It says hundreds of Croats and Muslims were murdered and thousands were starved, beaten and sexually abused.

He was mayor of the town of Prijedor at the time.

"Stakic organised and supported the municipal government structures that led a campaign of persecution directed against the non-Serb population," the indictment says.

It adds that as the head of the Bosnian Serb wartime crisis staff, Mr Stakic had the "final voice and authority in deciding issues within the municipality" during the 1992-1995 Bosnian war.

Milosevic role

Prosecutors allege he was part of a joint criminal enterprise intent on establishing an ethnically pure Serbian state.

They name, as other members of the enterprise, the former speaker of the Bosnian Serb parliament, Momcilo Krajisnik, the former Bosnian Serb vice-president, Biljana Plavsic, and the former Bosnian Serb leader, Radovan Karadzic, who is still at large.

The enterprise was headed, they say, by the former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, who is currently on trial for war crimes in Kosovo, Bosnia and Croatia.

Mr Stakic could be sentenced to life in prison if convicted.

See also:

02 Nov 01 | Europe
Omarska: A vision of hell
31 Jan 02 | Europe
Bosnian camp commander surrenders
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