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Friday, 27 September, 2002, 15:35 GMT 16:35 UK
Milosevic says Srebrenica 'made up'
Milosevic enters the courtroom
Milosevic has derided the court's authority
Former Yugoslav leader Slobodan Milosevic has said that the massacre of more than 8,000 Muslim men and boys at Srebrenica in 1995 was a plot hatched to make the world hate Serbs.

Mr Milosevic accused French spies and the Bosnian Muslim Government of the time of engineering the killings.


I am convinced the military honour of Mladic and Krstic would not allow them to execute civilians

Slobodan Milosevic
"I want the truth to be revealed for this insane crime," he said, speaking as he finished a blistering three-hour opening statement in his own defence at his trial on war crimes charges at the Hague tribunal.

Involvement at Srebrenica is one of a list of 61 charges the former Yugoslav president faces in the second stage of his war crimes trial which opened on Thursday, dealing with the 1991-1995 wars in Bosnia and Croatia.

Bosnian Serb General Radislav Krstic was convicted of genocide by the tribunal last year for his role in the Srebrenica killings.

Karadzic 'innocent'

Mr Milosevic alleged that representatives of the Bosnian Muslim Government and the French Secret Service conceived the plan surrounding Srebrenica in July 1995.

Just days later the town, which had been a designated UN safe haven, was abandoned by Dutch troops and overrun by Bosnian Serb forces.


President Karadzic swore to me he didn't know a thing about this

Slobodan Milosevic
Thousands of men and boys were executed in Europe's worst atrocity in its post-World War II history.

Mr Milosevic said the French and Muslims decided "genocide committed by the Serbs will be made up... as a pretext for military intervention" in Bosnia.

He said the killings had been carried out by a mercenary unit, rather than regular Bosnian Serb soldiers.

He denied the involvement of Bosnian Serb wartime leader Radovan Karadzic and his general, Ratko Mladic, both of whom are also indicted over Srebrenica.

"President Karadzic swore to me he didn't know a thing about this," he said.

"I am convinced the military honour of Mladic and Krstic would not allow them to execute civilians," he said.

'Traitors'

On Friday, the tribunal began hearing testimony from the prosecution's first witness in the case against Mr Milosevic.


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 witness - who was part of a moderate faction of the Serbian Democratic Party in Croatia - was identified only as C-037 and his appearance and voice were altered.

    C-037 testified that in the run-up to the Croatian war of 1991-92, Serb-controlled media was used by Belgrade to stoke the fears of the minority Serb population in Croatia and encourage armed rebellion against the Zagreb government.

    But Mr Milosevic scorned the allegations.

    "This is preposterous... how could this witness assess from his neck of the woods what the situation was in Belgrade?" he thundered.

    C-037 also said moderate Serbs wishing to negotiate were called "traitors" and "our lives were threatened".

    Hard to prove

    C-037 is the first of 177 prosecution witnesses due to be called.

    The next will be the serving Croatian President Stjepan Mesic.

    Opening the case for the prosecution on Thursday, Geoffrey Nice argued Mr Milosevic had been involved in a plan to carve out an ethnically pure Serb state on the territory of the former Yugoslavia.

    The BBC's Tim Franks in The Hague says 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, which closed on 11 September, 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.

     WATCH/LISTEN
     ON THIS STORY
    The BBC's Chris Morris in The Hague
    "Sparks were flying inside the court"

    At The Hague

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    See also:

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