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The BBC's Justin Webb in The Hague
"The case against Krstic is strong"
 real 28k

War Crimes Tribunal's spokesman Paul Risley
"I certainly think that this indictment is appropriate for the person who is charged today"
 real 28k

The BBC's William Horsley:
"The prosecutor is arguing that the General was responsible for the actions of his men"
 real 28k

Monday, 13 March, 2000, 14:14 GMT
Bosnia massacre trial opens
Radislav Krstic with his former commander, Radovan Karadzic
Krstic (left) with ex-Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic
The man accused of helping to mastermind the worst atrocity of the war in Bosnia Hercegovina has gone on trial in The Hague.


This is a case about the triumph of evil

Prosecutor Mark Hamon
Radislav Krstic, a general in the Bosnian Serb army, is accused of crimes against humanity for overseeing the killing of thousands of Muslim men and boys at Srebrenica in 1995.

General Krstic, 52, who was injured by a landmine in Bosnia, entered the court in a wheelchair and listened calmly as the charges were read out.

Prosecutor Mark Hamon, said: "This is a case about the triumph of evil, about men who professed to be professional soldiers ... (who) organised, planned and willingly participated in the genocide, or stood silent in the face of it."

General Krstic
General Krstic was one of three indicted for war crimes
It is the first time the Yugoslavia war crimes tribunal has examined the massacre in the UN-designated "safe area" of Srebrenica.

Mr Hamon described how Bosnian Serb forces led by General Krstic and commander-in-chief, General Ratko Mladic, entered the enclave, which was guarded by about 100 lightly-armed Dutch peacekeepers.

The seizure of Srebrenica, he said, was followed by the carefully organised massacre and the deportation of up to 30,000 of the majority Muslim population.

The trial

Our correspondent at The Hague says the trial is a major test for international law and for the United Nations, whose own role will be under scrutiny for allowing the massacre to happen.


The Bosnian Serb forces virtually eliminated the presence of any Bosnian Muslims in Srebrenica

Tribunal indictment
As commander of the Bosnian Serb army's 15,000-strong Drina Corps, General Krstic reported to General Mladic and, through him, to then-Bosnian Serb political leader Radovan Karadzic, the indictment says.

Prosecutors have charged all three with genocide, but Mr Karadzic and General Mladic remain at large.

Fall of Srebrenica
1993 - designated UN safe area

6 July 1995 - targeted by Bosnian Serbs

11 July - Dutch UN peacekeepers give up resistance

11-18 July - up to 8,000 Bosnian males executed and women deported
The trial will be examining the movements of General Krstic in relation to General Mladic, who is still the prime suspect in the massacre.

Our correspondent says the prosecution will be made more difficult because there were no eyewitnesses to the massacre.

But one old man, who was among a group taken away, is expected to testify that he saw General Krstic and General Mladic at the scene.

There is also video evidence of the two generals in the area at the time.

In addition to genocide, General Krstic has been charged with crimes against humanity, and violations of the laws of war.

If found guilty on any of the charges, he could face life imprisonment.

He denied the allegations after being seized by Nato-led peacekeeping troops in December 1998.

UN also at fault

More than 7,000 Bosnian Muslim men from Srebrenica are still missing, according to figures supplied by the International Committee of the Red Cross.


Women and children in truck
Only women and children were allowed out of Srebrenica
At least 2,000 corpses of Srebrenica victims were exhumed from mass graves by war tribunal experts.

The proceedings will be watched closely by bereaved families, demanding to know how the victims could have been killed after repeated assurances of protection from the UN.

The cases will also be a significant test for the Hague-based tribunal, which has yet to secure a genocide conviction.

One of those accused killed himself while awaiting judgement. A second was acquitted, but found guilty of murder.

Earlier this month, tribunal judges sentenced former Bosnian Croat General Tihomir Blaskic to a 45-year jail sentence for orchestrating ethnic cleansing against Bosnian Muslims.

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See also:

13 Mar 00 | Europe
Srebrenica: A survivor's tale
13 Mar 00 | Media reports
'An honourable man': Bosnian Serb military
13 Mar 00 | Europe
Flashback: Srebrenica 1995
16 Nov 99 | Europe
Srebrenica report blames UN
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