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Monday, 17 June, 2002, 18:12 GMT 19:12 UK
Bosnian Serb denies killings
Trnopolje detention camp
Victims came from the Trnopolje detention camp
A former Bosnian Serb police commander, Darko Mrdja, has pleaded not guilty at the Hague tribunal to organising a massacre of more than 200 men during the Bosnian war in 1992.

Prosecutors say the victims - including Bosnian Muslim detainees from the notorious Trnopolje prison camp - were forced to kneel at the edge of a steep cliff, then shot by Bosnian Serb police.

Darko Mrdja, 34, was arrested by Nato-led troops on Thursday in Prijedor, north-western Bosnia. He is the first Bosnian Serb to be brought to The Hague in connection with the Mount Vlasic killings.

The chief prosecutor of the war crimes tribunal, Carla Del Ponte, is visiting Bosnia to explore the possibility of transferring lower-profile war crimes cases to local courts.

The tribunal's spokesman, Jim Landale, told the BBC that the case load was "absolutely enormous".

Transferring lower-level cases to Bosnian courts would help local people see that justice was being done, he said.

But he insisted that handling of the cases would have to meet international standards and proper safeguards would have to be in place to protect witnesses and others involved in the trials.

Ms Del Ponte and the tribunal's president, Claude Jorda, are to meet the top international envoy in Bosnia, Paddy Ashdown, as well as local politicians and court officials.

Massacre

The indictment against Darko Mrdja alleges the Bosnian Muslim prisoners and about 1,000 non-Serb civilians from the town of Tukovi were put on buses which set off from northern Bosnia heading for Travnik, north-west of Sarajevo.

Hague tribunal chief prosecutor Carla Del Ponte
Del Ponte: Considering more trials in Bosnia
En route, Mr Mrdja ordered the women and children to be separated from the men of military age, according to the indictment.

At Mount Vlasic the men were told to kneel in a line on the mountainside and were then shot by Mr Mrdja and other policemen, it says.

Prosecutors say 12 men survived and the exact number of victims is unknown.

Prosecutors have not confirmed yet if others are indicted for the massacre.

The prosecution is preparing about 100 new indictments for war crimes in the former Yugoslavia, most of them in Bosnia.

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The BBC's Matthew Price
"He's suspected of killing at least twelve victims"

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