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Last Updated: Wednesday, 4 February, 2004, 16:31 GMT
Top Bosnian Serb denies genocide
File photo of Momcilo Krajisnik
Momcilo Krajisnik may face life imprisonment if found guilty
One of the top Serbian leaders of wartime Bosnia has pleaded not guilty to war crimes charges at a UN tribunal.

Momcilo Krajisnik is charged with genocide and masterminding a campaign of ethnic cleansing against non-Serbs during the war between 1992 and 1995.

"The indictment is probably addressed to the wrong person," he said in court.

Mr Krajisnik, 58, the former speaker of the Bosnian Serb parliament, is a very close ally of wartime leader Radovan Karadzic.

His trial is expected to take at least two years and if convicted he could face a life sentence.

I believe in God and in justice and I believe that truth will triumph. After all these years in prison, I will be a free man again
Momcilo Krajisnik
Mr Krajisnik was detained three years ago in Pale, when French Nato troops blasted off the door to his home with explosives.

He told the UN court on Wednesday, the second day of his trial, he was confident he would be acquitted.

"I believe in God and in justice and I believe that truth will triumph," he said.

"After all these years in prison, I will be a free man again."

Mr Krajisnik co-founded the Serb nationalist party in Bosnia with Mr Karadzic.

He was the speaker in the Bosnian parliament before the Serbs walked out and war began.

He led the Bosnian Serb parliament during the war, in which more than 200,000 people died.

Peace negotiator

He was later one of the negotiators of the Dayton peace accords and the Serb representative in Bosnia's first post-war joint presidency, along with a Croat and a Muslim.

He is now facing charges including organising detention camps, inciting ethnic hatred and shared responsibility for killing thousands.

"Along with Radovan Karadzic, it was his hand which held firmly the levers of power and authority," prosecutor Mark Harmon said in his opening remarks on Tuesday.

Mr Karadzic, the tribunal's most wanted fugitive, is still on the run.

Mr Krajisnik is one of the most senior Bosnian Serb leaders to be tried at the UN court so far.

Former Bosnian Serb president Biljana Plavsic made a surprise guilty plea to charges of crimes against humanity two years ago and was sentenced to 11 years in prison last February.

Top Bosnian Serb goes on trial
04 Feb 04  |  Europe
Bosnia: The legacy of war
15 Nov 00  |  Europe
Analysis: Plavsic's surrender
11 Jan 01  |  Europe

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