...it all began with Josip Tito
THE HAGUE, May 8 (Reuters) The prosecution called a British military historian on Wednesday to help build its Bosnia atrocity case as the first U.N. war crimes trial entered a second day in The Hague.
Dr James Gow described the breakup of the former Yugoslavia which sparked war in Bosnia between Serb separatists and the mainly-Muslim Sarajevo government. The sole defendant, Bosnian Serb paramilitary Dusan "Dusko" Tadic, is accused of killing, raping and torturing Muslim and Croat civilians as part of a broader Serb policy of "ethnic cleansing" in the Prijedor region of northwest Bosnia in the summer of 1992. Tadic, the first person to face an international war crimes tribunal since the Nuremberg and Tokyo trials after World War Two, has denied the charges against him.
Gow, a lecturer in war studies at London University and an expert in Yugoslav history, testified for the prosecution to set the historic and political context of alleged atrocities in the region. Prosecutor Grant Niemann said on Tuesday that horrific war crimes committed by Tadic were part of a systematic reign of terror by Serbs who wanted to drive Muslims and Croats out of Prijedor and claim it for themselves.
Using a laser-pen to illustrate shifts in Bosnia's political and ethnic boundaries on maps displayed on video monitors in the high-tech courtroom, Gow testified that Yugoslavia's disintegration and a rise of nationalism in the early 1990s led to the excesses of the war. "In May 1980 when (Yugoslav President Josip) Tito died, the federation ran into social, political and constitutional difficulties. The republics had polarized views of what the future should hold," Gow told the panel of three U.N. judges. "The ultimate disintegration of the federation in the 1990s was a product of this experience ...the imposition of tight communist controls... ultimately gave strength to the republics to go their own ways."
Gow was expected to continue on the stand for the rest of Wednesday, with other experts testifying well into next week. The first eye-witness accounts of the atrocities at the heart of the Tadic case are not expected until the third week of the trial. The proceedings, before a panel of three judges but no jury, are expected to last several months.
Tadic, who listened impassively to Gow's testimony, was portrayed by the prosecution on Tuesday as a committed Serb nationalist who killed for fun, and by the defense as a hapless scapegoat who was the victim of mistaken identity.
May 7 · Defense: Tadic Had No Role in Murder, Torture
May 7 · On Trial's Eve, Tadic Claims Innocence
May 7 · Childhood Friend Says Tadic was Cruel, Artistic
May 7 · Tribunal Judge Heavy on Texas Style
Key Facts about the War Crimes Tribunal
War Crimes Profile: Dusan Tadic
International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia from the United Nations
Coalition for International Justice
Reports concerning human rights abuses in Bosnia published by Intac Access
Major War Criminals/Suspects from CalTech's Bosnia Site
Reports on War Crimes in the Former Yugoslavia from CalTech's Bosnia Site
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