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Last Updated: Tuesday, 13 December 2005, 18:03 GMT
Ex-Croat Serb rebel head on trial
Milan Martic
Mr Martic denies any wrongdoing
Prosecutors at the international war crimes tribunal have accused a former Serb rebel leader in Croatia of murder, torture and ethnic cleansing.

Milan Martic is charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity dating back to his leadership of the self-declared Krajina republic in the early 1990s.

He is also blamed for a 1995 rocket attack on the Croatian capital, Zagreb.

Mr Martic, who surrendered to the tribunal in The Hague in 2002, denies all the charges against him.

The Krajina Serb republic lasted from 1991 to 1995, when a Croat offensive brought it under Zagreb's control.

The Croatian general who led the assault, Ante Gotovina, appeared at the international criminal tribunal in The Hague to face war crimes charges on Monday.

He was captured in Spain last week after living as a fugitive for four years.

'Personally responsible'

The court heard how Serbian leaders allegedly planned to create a so-called "Greater Serbia", annexing ethnic Serb territory within Bosnia and Croatia.

Croat and non-Serb property was destroyed so they would never have a home to return to
Alex Whiting

Plans to expel Croats and other non-Serbs were at the root of the establishment of the Krajina Serb republic, prosecutor Alex Whiting said.

"Croats and other non-Serbs were targeted by discriminatory measures, forced removal, imprisonment and murder in an effort to drive them away.

"Their property was looted and destroyed so they would never have a home to return to," he added.

The indictment against Mr Martic says he was personally responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity against non-Serb communities.

'Key figure'

As a former police chief, he is alleged to have helped train and equip police and special forces unit in the rebel Serb republic.

Prosecutors at the Hague tribunal say Mr Martic was a key figure in a "joint criminal enterprise" presided over by the Serb leader in Belgrade, Slobodan Milosevic.

Mr Martic is the first Krajina leader to go on trial.

His predecessor as leader of the rebel republic, Milan Babic, avioded a trial by pleading guilty to ethnic cleansing and persecution and was sentenced to 13 years in jail last year.

Mr Milosevic is in custody, halfway through his war crimes trial in the Dutch court.

He is accused of helping Serb leaders in Bosnia and Croatia maintain territory in the Balkans through the murder and persecution of other communities.

The wartime leaders of the Bosnian Serbs, Ratko Mladic and Radovan Karadzic, are currently on the run.

Profile: Milan Martic
13 Dec 05 |  Europe
Evicted Serbs remember Storm
05 Aug 05 |  Europe
Croat suspect denies war crimes
12 Dec 05 |  Europe

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