AMSTERDAM, Netherlands – The U.N. war crimes tribunal has agreed to hear charges against former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic of genocide and other atrocities during the 1992-1995 Bosnian war, a spokeswoman said Friday.
A tribunal judge in The Hague confirmed the Bosnia indictment, which prosecutors submitted earlier this month after years of preparation, said prosecution spokeswoman Florence Hartmann.
It was the third indictment against the ousted dictator who led Yugoslavia through four Balkan wars in the 1990s.
Milosevic, extradited from Belgrade on June 28, already has been charged for alleged war crimes in Kosovo and Croatia. But the Bosnia indictment was the first to include genocide, the most serious crime in the tribunal's statute.
Judge Richard May confirmed the indictment Thursday charging Milosevic with 29 counts, including genocide, complicity to commit genocide, crimes against humanity and grave breaches of the Geneva conventions, said Hartmann.
The indictment alleges that Milosevic "participated in a joint criminal enterprise, the purpose of which was the forcible and permanent removal of the majority of non-Serbs from large areas of the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina."
It included responsibility for the murder of more than 7,000 Muslims from the U.N.-declared protected zone of Srebrenica in July 1995.
Milosevic has appeared defiantly three times before the court since he was transferred to the U.N. detention unit in a Dutch prison outside The Hague ahead.
He has refused to appoint a lawyer to defend himself in what he calls an illegitimate and biased court.
Last week, the court agreed to allow a former U.S. attorney general to be his legal adviser, but he will not be allowed to defend the former president in court.
The tribunal said Ramsey Clark, a civil rights activist who was attorney general under President Lyndon Johnson, and British attorney John Livingston will be granted full privileges of defense council to meet and advise Milosevic in private, unmonitored consultations.
Prosecutors planned to merge all three indictments against Milosevic into one trial to shorten his time in court and eliminate overlapping testimony.
An initial trial date had been set for Feb. 12, 2002, but that would be delayed by several months if tribunal judges agree to the prosecution's joinder motion.