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UN: Bosnian Serb Colonel Pleads Innocent

The Hague, 16 August 2001 (RFE/RL) -- A Bosnian Serb colonel pleaded not guilty today to charges of genocide for his role in the Srebrenica massacre at the war crimes tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague. He face charges of genocide for his alleged role in the 1995 Srebrenica massacre of thousands of Muslims.

Vidoje Blagojevic also faces five charges of crimes against humanity and one charge of violating the laws and customs of war.

Blagojevic commanded an infantry and engineering brigade in the Bosnian Serb Drina Corps in Bosnia.

The tribunal said Bosnian Serb army forces under Blagojevic's command took part in killings and summary executions of thousands of Bosnian Muslim men.

Blagojevic also served as a colonel in command of the Bratunac Brigade, which was responsible for much of the region around Srebrenica.

He was seized in the northern Bosnian town of Banja Luka last week by NATO forces.

Earlier this month, General Radislav Krstic became the first person to be convicted for genocide by the tribunal for atrocities at Srebrenica.

Tribunal spokesman Jim Landale told RFE/RL today that Blagojevic reported directly to Krstic: "(Blagojevic) was in charge of the Bratunac Brigade. He reported directly to General (Radislav) Krstic, who just recently was given 46 years and convicted of genocide at the tribunal, who, in turn, reported to General (Ratko) Mladic."

About 7,500 Bosnian Muslim men and boys were killed when Bosnian Serb forces overran the UN enclave of Srebrenica in 1995.

Yesterday, Bosnian Serb Colonel Dragan Jokic, also accused of crimes against humanity during the Bosnian war, arrived in The Hague and was handed over to the tribunal.

Jokic's lawyer, Krstan Simic, says Jokic decided to surrender to the tribunal after being questioned by UN investigators last month.