Milosevic refuses genocide plea
THE HAGUE, Netherlands -- Former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic has refused to enter a plea on genocide charges at the U.N. war crimes tribunal.
Milosevic, who ruled in Belgrade for 13 years, sat impassively as the genocide charges were read out at the U.N. War Crimes Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague on Tuesday.
"This miserable text is the ultimate absurdity. I should be given credit for peace in Bosnia, not war," Milosevic said when asked if he were guilty or innocent of genocide.
"The responsibility for the war in Bosnia lies with the (Western) powers and their agents, not in Bosnia and not with Serbs, Serb people or Serb policy," Milosevic said before presiding Judge Richard May cut him short.
It was Milosevic's fourth appearance before the judges, and his third set of charges. Others read at previous hearings include alleged war crimes and human rights offences.
The court entered a plea of not guilty on Milosevic's behalf, as it has done on previous charges.
He is accused not just of genocide but of war crimes and human rights offences during the years of ethnic cleansing in Kosovo between 1998-99 and in Croatia from 1991-95.
The court was also to decide on Tuesday whether chief prosecutor Carla del Ponte had succeeded in having all three major charges tackled at the same time.
Such a move would cause the start of the trial, currently scheduled for February 12, to be delayed by several months.
Milosevic failed to enter a plea against the earlier charges, saying the trial was a political show-event, and has refused to recognise the legality of the court.
When he rejected the chance to appoint a defence counsel, the court itself appointed three amici curiae, or "friends of the court," to assist his case, although Milosevic has refused to see them.
The former Yugoslav leader, who also faces charges of corruption and abuse of power back home, was arrested in April and extradited from Belgrade to The Hague on June 28.
He has steadfastly refused to read any court documents.
The latest document says the former Balkan strongman allegedly participated in a "joint criminal enterprise" which was designed to secure the "forcible and permanent removal of non-Serbs, principally Bosnian Muslims and Bosnian Croats, from large areas of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina."
The trial brings before the court the most important European leader to face war crimes charges since the Nazis were tried at Nuremberg after World War II.
Some legal authorities believe that despite the degree of power enjoyed by Milosevic during his years in Belgrade, it could be difficult to prove his alleged "command responsibility" for the massacres and ethnic cleansing.
Del Ponte and her team have to prove that Milosevic knew and approved of the killings, such as the massacre near Srebrenica of about 7,000 men in 1995.
Former Bosnian general Radislav Krstic has already been sentenced to 46 years for his role in the Srebrenica massacre. The war overall left 200,000 dead and 1 million refugees without homes.
The war crimes charges against Milosevic include his alleged role in the shelling of Sarajevo, which killed or wounded thousands of civilians. Bosnian Serb Gen. Stanislav Galic, commander of the besieging forces, is already being tried by the International Court for his part.
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International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia
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