Serb general spurns tribunal

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The Hague (Reuter) - Djordje Djukic, a Bosnian Serb General, pleaded not guilty yesterday to war crimes charges relating to the 43- month siege of Sarajevo and said he had done nothing to warranted an appearance before the tribunal.

The UN criminal tribunal for former Yugoslavia charged General Djukic with assisting in the shelling of the Bosnian capital during the siege from May 1992 to December 1995 in which more than 10,000 people are believed to have died.

General Djukic, a senior logistics officer in the Bosnian Serb army, was arrested by Bosnian government police on 30 January with a Bosnian Serb colonel, Aleksa Krsmanovic.

General Djukic told the chamber he understood the indictment which accused him of crimes against humanity, but his lawyer called the proceedings "a kind of judicial and legal nonsense".

General Djukic, a senior aide to the Bosnian Serb military commander, General Ratko Mladic, also been indicted by the tribunal, has refused to answer prosecutors' questions.

"It's not known whether I'm being tried in front of the tribunal in The Hague or the court in Sarajevo, or in front of both," he said.

The tribunal, set up by the Security Council in 1993, is the first international body to prosecute war crimes since the trials at Nuremberg and Tokyo after the Second World War.

Meanwhile, a UN spokesman in Sarajevo said Bosnian Serbs are continuing to evict Muslims and Croats from their homes in the northern city of Banja Luka, in spite of assurances from Serb police that "ethnic cleansing" would end.

"We are receiving reports on a daily basis that people are being forced to leave their homes," said Alexander Ivanko, a spokesman for the International Police Task Force.

"This is a disgrace and should be dealt with appropriately by the local authorities who we understand have enough police forces to stop the evictions."