Croat Serb ex-leader faces trial

MILAN MARTIC, the former leader of the self-proclaimed rebel Serb republic within Croatia, is to go on trial in The Hague for war crimes. Mr Martic has denied charges of murder and persecution dating to his time as leader of Serbs in the Krajina region. Prosecutors also blame him for a 1995 rocket attack on the Croatian capital, Zagreb, which killed seven people.

The Croatian general who led the assault, Ante Gotovina, appeared at the international criminal tribunal in The Hague to face war crimes charges on Monday. He was captured in Spain the week before, after living as a fugitive for four years.

The indictment against Martic says he was personally responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity against non-Serb communities. The charges – including murder, persecution and extermination – form part of the strategy known as “ethnic cleansing”, widely used during the Balkan wars of the 1990s.

As a former police chief, Martic is alleged to have helped train and equip police and special force units in the rebel Serb republic. Prosecutors at The Hague tribunal say Martic was a key figure in a “joint criminal enterprise” presided over by the Serb leader in Belgrade, Slobodan Milosevic.