Skip to main content /WORLD /WORLD

Milosevic trial sees prison tape

Trnopolje prisoner
A prisoner at Trnopolje detention camp, Bosnia, in 1992  

THE HAGUE, Netherlands -- Prosecutors screened graphic film of gaunt prisoners in Bosnian camps on the second day of the war crimes trial of Slobodan Milosevic.

Milosevic masterminded "unrelenting violence" not seen since World War II, prosecutors told the trial at the Hague on Wednesday.

The former Yugoslav leader is charged with crimes against humanity in Croatia and Kosovo, and genocide in Bosnia. He is the first head of state to be called to justice before an international tribunal.

Addressing the tribunal for the first time on Wednesday, Milosevic said it did not have the competence to try him. He said he had yet to receive answers to his questions about the legality of the court.

But Judge Richard May adjourned the hearing until Thursday, saying his views about the tribunal were "irrelevant."

His legal advisers said on Wednesday Milosevic would speak for at least a full day.

Milosevic is accused of "the worst crimes known to humankind." CNN's Christiane Amanpour reports (February 12)

Play video
(QuickTime, Real or Windows Media)
What they said: Quotes from the prosecution 
Charges: A summary of the indictment 
Timeline: The Milosevic years 
The view from Serbia 
Speaking out for Kosovo's dead 
In pictures: Milosevic in court 

In-Depth: The case against Milosevic 

CNN Presents: The people against Milosevic 
On the scene: CNN's Christiane Amanpour reports Europe
More news  from our European edition
Slobodan Milosevic says the charges against him are a conspiracy by the West. Do you agree?

View Results


"He's going to provoke or to challenge very certain, strictly legal questions and after that he is going to speak also about the historical background, and the political background," Belgrade lawyer Dragoslav Ognjanovic told Reuters.

Milosevic does not recognise the authority of the court and will defend himself before the three-member panel of judges.

His lawyers say he will seek to call high-ranking Western officials to testify, including the former U.S. President Bill Clinton and UK Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Describing crimes in Bosnia -- for which Milosevic has been charged with the genocide of thousands of Muslims at Srebrenica -- prosecutors showed video footage of thin and frightened prisoners at the Trnopolje camp in 1992.

Prosecutors said that at the Trnopolje, Omarska and Keraterm detention centres of eastern Bosnia thousands of detainees were starved, beaten, sexually assaulted and tortured. They said many were murdered and their bodies buried in mass graves.

Prosecutors say the prison camps were part of a campaign to rid large portions of Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo of non-Serb populations and create a "greater" Serb state.

Geoffrey Nice, a deputy prosecutor, recounted the week-long rampage in July 1995 at Srebrenica, where as many as 7,500 men and boys were killed in mass executions.

A Bosnian Serb general, Radislav Krstic, was convicted of genocide last year for his role in the Srebrenica massacres.

The "carefully calculated" destruction of Muslim homes, mosques and businesses in the eastern Bosnian enclave was intended to ensure the victims would never return, Nice said.

"Milosevic's complicity was proved by his support" of the Bosnian-Serb leadership, he said.

Prosecutors spent Tuesday's six-hour hearings laying the groundwork for their case, attempting to link Milosevic to thousands of murders and the expulsion of nearly a million people from the three Balkan states.

Milosevic, 60, faces a total of 66 counts of genocide and other war crimes. Each count carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.

Milosevic's legal advisers say he will argue that he is not a war criminal but a leader who sought unity and peace in his country.

During the trial, which is expected to last more than two years, prosecutors will call up to 350 witnesses.

Presenting a summary of a case that took years to prepare, chief prosecutor Carla Del Ponte said Milosevic had been consumed by his thirst for power and had even manipulated and used his own people to achieve his "evil" goals.

"Some of the incidents reveal an almost medieval savagery and a calculated cruelty that went far beyond the bounds of legitimate warfare," she said in a 30-minute opening statement on Tuesday.


Note: Pages will open in a new browser window
External sites are not endorsed by CNN Interactive.


Back to the top