Wed, Sep 01, 2004 - Page 6 News List

Milosevic's war crimes trial begins again in The Hague

AFP , THE HAGUE

The war crimes trial of Slobodan Milosevic resumed yesterday with the opening statement of the former Yugoslav president.

Milosevic has been on trial in The Hague for over two years for allegedly masterminding the wars in Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo that tore apart the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s.

Milosevic is charged with 10 counts of crimes against humanity including persecution, extermination, torture and inhumane acts during the war in Croatia which left more than 25,000 people dead.

He is also accused over the deportation of at least 170,000 Croats and other non-Serbs and the unlawful confinement of thousands in inhumane conditions.

The indictment names over 700 people who were killed from the Krajina region, eastern and western Slavonia and during the 1991 attack on Vukovar hospital.

After Serb forces took control of Vukovar in November 1991, they took 255 Croat and non-Serb patients from the hospital and allegedly "beat and tortured the victims for hours." Eventually all were shot and killed on a remote farm and buried in a mass grave.

Milosevic also faces 22 counts of war crimes related to the same atrocities.

Milosevic faces two counts of genocide and complicity in genocide, the gravest of war crimes, for the 1995 Serb massacre of more than 7,000 Muslim boys and men at Srebrenica and the detention of thousands of Bosnian Muslims and Croats in camps in inhumane conditions.

He is further charged with 27 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity including persecution, murder and torture.

The Geneva Convention defines genocide as "acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group."

The genocide charge specifically lists "the widespread killing of thousands of Bosnian Muslims during and after the take-over of territories," specifically naming the 1995 massacre of Srebrenica.

Milosevic is also cited for the killing of thousands of non-Serbs in detention camps, such as the infamous Omarska and Keraterm camps in northwestern Bosnia.

The indictment lists over 9,000 dead and states that the former president participated in a "joint criminal enterprise," the purpose of which was the "forcible and permanent removal of the majority of non-Serbs" from certain areas in Bosnia.

In all more than 200,000 people were killed during the Bosnian war.

Milosevic, together with four of his allies in a "joint criminal enterprise," is accused of having "planned, instigated, ordered, committed or otherwise aided and abetted in a deliberate and widespread or systematic campaign of terror and violence directed at Kosovo Albanian civilians."

There are four charges of crimes against humanity and one of war crimes against Milosevic including deportation, forcible transfer, murder and persecutions on political, racial and religious grounds.

In 1998-1999 the Yugoslav government cracked down on ethnic Albanians living in the Serbian province of Kosovo. During the conflict more than 10,000 people lost their lives.

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