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Yugoslavia: Milosevic Trial Opens At UN Tribunal

The Hague, 12 February 2002 (RFE/RL) -- The trial against former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic opened at the UN war crimes tribunal in The Hague today. Milosevic is the first former head of state to stand trial before the international tribunal.

Lead prosecutor Carla Del Ponte said Milosevic is responsible for "the worst crimes known to humankind. She said his case will demonstrate that "no one is above the law" or beyond the reach of international justice.

Milosevic is charged with crimes against humanity in Croatia in 1991-92, genocide in the 1992-95 Bosnian war, and crimes against humanity in Kosovo in 1999. His trial is the biggest war crimes case since Nazi officials were tried at Nuremberg after World War II.

He could face life in prison if convicted.

Prosecutors say they plan to call some 300 witnesses. The trial is expected to last at least two years.

Milosevic calls the UN court "illegal" and has refused to recognize its authority. The judges entered pleas of "not guilty" on his behalf.