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Milosevic Intended to Destroy Bosnian Muslim Community, Prosecutors Say

Prosecutors at the U.N. war crimes tribunal for former Yugoslavia opened the second part of their case against Slobodan Milosevic by saying they will prove he is responsible for genocide in Bosnia. The former Yugoslav president, who has been on trial for the past seven months for alleged war crimes in Kosovo, is charged with 61 additional counts relating to the wars in Croatia and Bosnia.

Prosecutor Geoffrey Nice told the three judges in Courtroom One that to understand what happened in Bosnia, all they have to do is compare a pre-war map with a post-war one. The second, he says, looks a lot neater, showing all three ethnic groups, Serbs, Muslims, and Croats, largely confined to their own areas.

"It was a tidy map bought by thousands of killings, innumerable acts of inhumanity and countless acts of ethnic cleansing," the prosecutor said.

Prosecutors say that they will prove that Slobodan Milosevic was one of the people striving to create such a map, that he was an integral part of a joint criminal enterprise whose goal was to ethnically cleanse huge parts of Bosnia and Croatia in order to make a Serb-dominated state. When persecutions failed to do the job, said Prosecutor Nice, Mr. Milosevic resorted to genocide.

"We will submit, at the conclusion of the evidence, that the accused intended to destroy the Bosnian Muslim community, in part in order to fulfill the aims of the objective of the criminal enterprise, where persecutions would be insufficient to achieve the desired result, or alternatively, that genocide was the natural and foreseeable consequence of the joint criminal enterprise, forcible and permanently to remove non-Serbs from territory," he said.

At the very least, says Mr. Nice, Slobodan Milosevic failed to prevent the genocide or to punish those who committed it. He says Mr. Milosevic may not be the sole architect of the plan, but without his essential support, which ranged from paying the salaries of Bosnian Serb officers to supplying his proxies with military equipment, it couldn't have been carried out.

Mr. Nice says politicians try not to leave evidence that will incriminate them. But he says his prosecutors have gathered enough to lay the guilt squarely at Slobodan Milosevic's door, even if that evidence comes in bits and pieces and not the single smoking gun many have come to expect.

When it was the former president's turn to speak, he continued the argument he's been making since he first stepped into court more than a year ago, that he was the peacemaker trying to save Yugoslavia from what he calls the imperialist Western powers who wanted to break it up. He said, of course he helped the Serbs in Croatia and Bosnia to survive, just like the Americans, Iranians and others supported the Muslims and Croats. Slobodan Milosevic says he intends to call high-level Western politicians to testify about what they knew. But prosecutors still have another eight months to finish their case. They are expected to call the first of some 180 witnesses Friday.