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Thursday, 26 September, 2002, 18:44 GMT 19:44 UK
Milosevic derides genocide charges
Srebrenica massacre survivor Sabra Kolenovic watches Milosevic trial
Ethnic cleansing victims are following the trial closely
Slobodan Milosevic has rejected charges of genocide, murder and torture during the wars in Bosnia and Croatia, as prosecutors opened the second phase of the trial against the former Yugoslav leader.

Mr Milosevic derided the tribunal at The Hague, saying it was simply the latest phase of aggression against the Serbs.


I personally invested all my powers in achieving peace

Slobodan Milosevic
Prosecutors argued that Mr Milosevic had been involved in a plan to carve out an ethnically pure Serb state on the territory of the former Yugoslavia.

But the former leader insisted he had worked for peace in the Balkans, unlike Western "imperialist powers".

"I personally invested all my powers in achieving peace," Mr Milosevic told the court.

Meanwhile Mr Milosevic's daughter Marija has been given an eight month suspended jail sentence by a Belgrade court for firing shots during her father's arrest in April 2001, Serbian state television reported on Thursday.

She had been charged with disturbing public safety and illegally possessing a weapon.

'Victims'

Dressed in his usual dark blue suit and red tie, Mr Milosevic blamed western powers for the violence, singling out Germany and the United States.

He said they had fanned nationalist sentiment by quickly recognising the independence of Croatia and Bosnia after the old Yugoslavia broke up in the early 1990s.

Mr Milosevic also produced a television documentary that portrayed Serbs as victims.


[Milosevic] is the individual from whom the authority to persecute and maltreat non-Serbs derived

Prosecution statement
As the trial began, Bosnian protesters outside the court demanded new efforts to arrest Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic, key Bosnian Serb leaders also accused of war crimes.

An estimated 200,000 people died during the Bosnian war, which ended in 1995 after three-and-a-half years.

Part of plan

The new phase of the trial opened with a detailed listing by the prosecution of charges relating to the bloody civil wars in Bosnia and Croatia.

In an 80-minute statement, Prosecutor Geoffrey Nice outlined the 61 counts of war crimes against the defendant.

Prosecutor Geoffrey Nice
The prosecution listed notorious events from the ex-Yugoslav wars
The former president, he said, had been part of, though not necessarily the sole architect of, a plan to create a Serb state on the pretext of "wanting people to remain in Yugoslavia".

"Plans can emerge without a single originator, such plans can be joined and there can be those who choose to lead such plans once they join them, being criminally opportunistic and coming to be seen as, and indeed be, central to the plan itself," Mr Nice said.

He promised that the prosecution would "reveal a careful design and strategy" all of which "may be laid at the door of this accused".

Mr Milosevic opened his defence with a video tape portraying Croatia's post-independence leaders as direct successors of the pro-Nazi regime in place there during the Second World War.

Lack of witnesses

Correspondents say prosecutors are under great pressure to present a strong case against Mr Milosevic during this phase of the trial.


Slobodan Milosevic (AFP)
Milosevic charges

Bosnia

  • genocide and complicity in genocide, crimes against humanity, grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions and violations of the laws or customs of war

    Croatia

  • grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions, violations of the laws or customs of war and crimes against humanity

    Kosovo

  • violations of the laws or customs of war and crimes against humanity


  • The prosecution was criticised for failing to produce hard evidence linking him directly to atrocities in Kosovo during the first phase of the trial, which ended two weeks earlier.

    Chief prosecutor Carla Del Ponte urged Belgrade to send more of Mr Milosevic's former aides to testify.

    "Co-operation remains fractious, difficult and unpredictable," she told the court before handing over to her colleague Mr Nice.

    Genocide, the most serious war crime, tops the 61 counts that Mr Milosevic faces for ethnic cleansing in Bosnia and Croatia.

    Other charges include the murder, torture and deportation of non-Serbs.

    BBC Europe correspondent Tim Franks writes from The Hague that the charge of genocide - an attempt to exterminate an entire people - will be the hardest to prove.

    In the Kosovo phase of the trial, the prosecution failed to produce any one single devastating witness close to Mr Milosevic, and the defendant showed himself to be a pugnacious cross-examiner of witnesses.

     WATCH/LISTEN
     ON THIS STORY
    The BBC's Chris Morris
    "After just one day of this indictment there are clear signs of how this case will unfold"
    Marco Gasic, Serbian Information Office
    "They don't want justice, they want scapegoats"

    At The Hague

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    See also:

    10 Sep 02 | Media reports
    10 Dec 01 | Europe
    28 Jun 02 | Europe
    26 Sep 02 | Europe
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