Serbian trials

The Hague began the largest group trial in its history today. It’s the latest in a series of trials for accused war criminals from the Bosnian Serb army. A similar trial of six Serb military officers and politicians accused of crimes from the 1999 war in Kosovo opened this past Monday.

In a rather startling opener, Chief Prosecutor Carla del Ponte was asked to sit down after the defense objected to the emotive nature of her opening statement. The defense argued that this should be saved for the opening arguments, which are slated to take place on August 21.

The following men are being charged with genocide:

Ljubisa Beara — chief of security for the Bosnian Serb army
Ljubomir Borovcanin — deputy commander for the Bosnian Serb special police
Vinko Pandurevic — the brigade commander that led the attack on Srebrenica
Drago Nikolic — the brigade’s chief of security
Vujadin Popovic — military police officer

The remaining two men — Radivoje Miletic and Milan Gvero — are charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity. It is alleged they blocked aid and supplies from getting to thousands of refugees in Srebrenica.

The former Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic died in March of a heart attack, bringing a close to his own trial. The two men who were chiefly behind the killings — Gen. Ratko Mladic and Radovan Karadic — have never been captured.

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