Monday, May 10, 1999 Published at 18:11 GMT 19:11 UK
Nato opens courtroom defence
Yugoslav lawyer Rodoljub Etinski addresses the court
Nato nations have begun responding to allegations that the military operation against Yugoslavia breaks international law and amounts to genocide.
Belgrade's lawyers say Operation Allied Force is tantamount to genocide.
Belgrade is claiming compensation from 10 Nato countries involved for, what it alleges is, an unlawful campaign.
Lawyer Rodoljub Etinski told the court in The Hague: "The acts of bombing against Yugoslavia are not just illegal acts, they constitute a violation of human rights and the perpetration of the crime of genocide."
"By killing people, by murdering children ... by destroying a whole nation, they want to protect a part of that population, one of its numerous ethnic minorities."
Mr Etinski told the court in the Hague that Yugoslavia's crackdown in Kosovo was aimed at suppressing terrorism and that the allies had no right to intervene in an internal conflict.
The Belgrade Government wants the court to tell the United States, the United Kingdom, and other leading Nato countries to stop the airstrikes and pay Yugoslavia compensation.
Ian Brownlie, a British professor of public international law who is on the Yugoslav legal team, told the court: "There is no general humanitarian purpose to these acts.
"The pattern of targets indicate political purposes unrelated to humanitarian reasons."
Yugoslavia says Nato has broken the United Nations Charter by taking enforcement action without authorisation from the Security Council.
BBC Legal Affairs Correspondent Joshua Rozenberg says that the genocide allegation against Nato is perhaps the most striking.
It argues that Nato countries are in breach of their obligation not to deliberately inflict on a national group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction, in whole or in part.
Yugoslavia is asking the court to make a temporary ruling ordering the Nato countries to stop the campaign.
Belgium, Canada and France were the first to outline their cases, giving a vigorous defence of Nato action.
They said that a court order stopping the bombing would turn reality on its head.
Canada's representative Philippe Kirsch said siad: "Provisional measures [ordering a halt to strikes] would not avoid irreparable damage, it would cause irreparable damage.
Belgium's representative Rusen Ergec said: "I would defy the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to submit any evidence of any such intention to bring about the destruction of an ethnic, religious or national group."
And Ronny Abraham, a French Foreign Ministry official, said: "Yugoslavia is using the court as a political forum."
Before the hearing the US, which is due to put its case on Tuesday, described the legal action as an "absurdity" and "an obvious attempt to divert attention from the atrocities" perpetrated by the Belgrade regime.
The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia wants the court to declare that: