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The BBC's Justin Webb in The Hague
"There is satisfaction here that this trial has started, but a strong sense of unfinished business"
 real 28k

The BBC's William Horsely reports from The Hague:
"A week of mass slaughter"
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War Crimes Tribunal's spokesman Paul Risley
"I certainly think that this indictment is appropriate for the person who is charged today"
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Monday, 13 March, 2000, 21:01 GMT
Bosnian Serb accused of genocide
General Krstic in court
General Krstic was captured in December 1998
UN prosecutors described the massacre in the Bosnian town of Srebrenica as a "triumph of evil" as the trial opened of a former Bosnian-Serb general on genocide charges.

The comments were made at the trial of General Radislav Krstic, who was second-in-command during the take-over the eastern Bosnian town in 1995.

The victors abandoned all semblance of humanity and committed atrocities of a type and on a scale not seen in Europe since World War II

Prosecutor Mark Hamon
More than 7,500 Muslims were murdered in the town, in what has been described as the worst slaughter of the 1991-1995 conflict in the former Yugoslavia.

The tribunal was shown footage of meadows filled with corpses and bones decaying in mass graves.

Prosecutors at the International Criminal Tribunal in the Hague have accused the Bosnian-Serb army of systematically murdering thousands of Muslim civilians in the town.

They said the crimes were on a scale not seen in Europe since World War II.

A BBC correspondent says the case will also put the spotlight on the failure of the United Nations to protect the people of Srebrenica.

'Triumph of evil'

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."

He said General Krstic bore responsibility for the actions of his troops even though he denies knowledge of the crimes his subordinates may have committed.

photo of massacre site
The court was shown photographic evidence of massacres
He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Mr Hamon described how Bosnian-Serb forces led by General Krstic and commander-in-chief, General Ratko Mladic, entered the enclave and intimidated the 100 lightly-armed Dutch peacekeepers who were guarding it.

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

Victims blindfolded

The court heard new evidence from UN investigator Jean Rene Ruez about the discovery of dozens of sites of mass killings and mass graves in the area.

Many of the exhumed bodies were blindfolded and had their hands tied together with wire.

We wish him a death penalty, for him to disappear from the face of the earth

Relative of victim
The men were apparently seized and murdered while fleeing by night to the town of Tuzla, some 50km (30 miles) away, through Serb-held mountains.

Jean Rene Ruez said the Serbs had fooled fleeing Muslims by stealing UN equipment and dressing in the UN's trademark blue helmets.

Correspondents say the prosecution's case is 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.

UN role

A soul-searching report by Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who was in charge of peacekeeping operations at the time of the massacre, last year acknowledged the UN's inglorious role in failing "to prevent the unfolding horror."

Srebrenica: women were allowed to go, menfolk disappeared
Women of Srebrenica were allowed to go, their menfolk disappeared
More than 7,000 Bosnian Muslim men from Srebrenica are still missing, according to figures supplied by the International Committee of the Red Cross.

General Krstic's defence lawyers are likely to argue that the peacekeepers aided and abetted any war crimes by helping to deliver the victims to their killers.

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

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
His superior General Mladic and the then-Bosnian Serb political leader Radovan Karadzic have also been charged with genocide but remain at large.

If the charge of genocide is upheld, General Krstic will be the first defendant to be convicted of it in this tribunal.

A conviction of any of the three charges will result in life imprisonment.

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

"We wish him a death penalty, for him to disappear from the face of the earth," said Nedziba Salihovic, who lost her husband, son, father, brother and 26 other male relatives.

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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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