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Milosevic Trial Focuses on Croatia and Bosnia - 2002-09-27


Former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic has told the war crimes tribunal in The Hague that French spies and Bosnian Muslim leaders are to blame for the 1995 massacre of some 8,000 Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica. The trial is in the second day of a new phase, focusing on Croatia and Bosnia.

According to Slobodan Milosevic, it was all one big plot to make the world hate the Serbs.

This was the latest in his long list of conspiracy theories poured out in court to explain why he's on trial for genocide and what happened in the country he once led.

Mr. Milosevic says the French secret service colluded with Muslim leaders to make the massacres in Bosnia look like Serbian crimes. He says it was all a pretext for foreign military intervention in Bosnia. Mr. Milosevic spoke through an interpreter.

"I want the truth to be revealed about this insane crime," he said. "In the interest of justice, it has to be explained before the world public."

Mr. Milosevic said it was mercenaries, not regular Bosnian Serb soldiers, who committed the massacres that are regarded as Europe's worst since World War II. He said two of the other men indicted for genocide in Srebrenica, former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic and General Ratko Mladic, also knew nothing about the massacres.

He said the same is true of former Bosnian Serb General Radislav Krstic, who the Hague court convicted of genocide last year.

But prosecutors say Mr. Milosevic committed genocide in Srebrenica and other parts of Bosnia in his effort to create a Greater Serbia. The prosecutors say they can link Mr. Milosevic to the Srebrenica crimes. They say they have proof that when General Krstic was arrested three years after the crimes, he was still carrying his ID card from the Yugoslav army.

Prosecutors maintain that the army, under Mr. Milosevic's control, supported and financed the Bosnian Serbs and their attacks on Muslims throughout the war. They say Mr. Milosevic also supported the Croatian Serbs, who wanted to become part of his Greater Serbia.

On Friday, prosecutors called their first witness in this part of the trial, a former ethnic-Serb political leader from Croatia. The protected witness, known only as C-037, was a moderate Serb politician in a part of Croatia that was taken over by more extreme Serbs when Croatia declared independence in 1991.

He testified that moderates like himself were seen as traitors, and that sentiments were whipped up by nationalist Serbs in Croatia supported by Belgrade. He said the extremists incited violence by telling Croatian Serbs they were in danger in Croatia, when in fact they were not.

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