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Testimony Heard in Bosnia War Trial

April 13, 1999

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) _ The war crimes trial of two Bosnian Croats accused of leading a bloody campaign against Muslim civilians during the Bosnian war moved into full swing Tuesday with closed-door testimony.

But the Yugoslav war crimes tribunal, which is trying Dario Kordic and Mario Cerkez, declined to provide details of the court action.

Kordic, 38, and Cerkez, 40, are each charged with 22 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity for allegedly overseeing the systematic purge of Muslims from central Bosnia’s Lasva River Valley from 1992-93.

The trial focuses on ``command responsibility″ _ the extent to which a leader can be held accountable for failing to prevent or punish atrocities committed by subordinates.

Tribunal prosecutors say troops under the two Croats’ command murdered at least 100 defenseless men, women and children, and shelled, dynamited and set fire to their houses and mosques.

Kordic and Cerkez have pleaded innocent. They face up to life imprisonment if convicted. The trial, which began Monday, is expected to last up to a year, and prosecutors have said they plan to call as many as 370 witnesses.

The tribunal was set up by the U.N. Security Council in 1993 to bring to justice those responsible for atrocities in the wars that followed the breakup of Yugoslavia.

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