Former Bosnian Serb general Zdravko Tolimir has appeared before the Hague-based tribunal for the former Yugoslavia to answer charges he personally oversaw the 1994 massacre of Bosnian Muslims at Srebrenica.
REUTERS - Former Bosnian Serb army general Zdravko Tolimir took part in a plan to expel Muslims from Srebrenica and personally ensured the killing of thousands of men and boys, war crimes prosecutors said on Friday.
Tolimir, the last accused person in custody to go on trial at the Hague-based Yugoslavia tribunal, has pleaded not guilty to eight counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity, including genocide, murder, forcible transfer and persecutions.
On the first day of the trial, prosecutor Nelson Thayer told the court that Tolimir oversaw the Srebrenica massacre and was the most trusted assistant of Serb wartime commander Ratko Mladic, who is still at large and wanted for war crimes.
"This case is about general Tolimir's choice to foresake his duty to abide by the laws of war in pursuit of a mono-ethnic Serbian state and ultimately to take part in and lead organised brutality," Thayer said.
Tolimir, who was arrested in May 2007 and transferred to the Hague-based tribunal in June 2007, is representing himself like many other detainees at the court and attended proceedings.
"God bless you all. I wish you successful work I hope may bring these proceedings to a successful end, God willing," he told the judges.
About 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys were killed at Srebrenica in July 1995 in the violent break-up of the former Yugoslavia when Serbs, Croats and Muslims fought for land. More than 100,000 people were killed in warfare and by such policies as "ethnic cleansing".
Former Bosnian Serb President Radovan Karadzic is also on trial at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and is due to give his opening statement on Monday following a four-month delay to his case.
Thayer said the Srebrenica genocide was the result of six strategic objectives of the Serbian people in Bosnia unveiled by Karadzic to the Serbian National Assembly in May 1992.
"Two of the objectives would be carried forth like torches for the rest of the war,keeping the flames of ethnic and religious hatred burning relentlessly and culminating in a pitiless inferno that ultimately consumed over 7,000 men and boys in Srebrenica," Thayer said.
He said those behind this included the highest-level politicians like Karadzic, but also included the highest ranking officers of the Bosnian Serb army such as Maldic and Tolimir.
The prosecutor said Tolimir's influence and authority over the Bosnian Serb soldiers was undisputed and he would prove Tolimir's participation in the killings with witness testimony, military records and intercepts and forensic evidence.
The trial initially will take place over two days each week and is not expected to be completed this year.
Date created : 2010-02-26