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Europe

Milosevic remains defiant

The indictment reads like a catalogue of horrors that made the war in Bosnia one of the darkest chapters in recent European history. The former Serb leader still declined to plead to the charges.

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"I should be given credit for peace in Bosnia, not war", Milosevic said

"I would like to say to you that what we have just heard, this tragic text, is a supreme absurdity. I should be given credit for peace in Bosnia not war," Milosevic said when asked to enter a plea by judge May.

"Mr Milosevic at this time you are simply required to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty. You have failed to do so. Accordingly the trial chamber will enter pleas of not guilty to all the counts of this indictment," judge May said.

Prosecutors accuse Milosevic of being part of a larger criminal enterprise. They have implicated him in all atrocities allegedly carried out by Bosnian Serbs during the three year war. These include the expulsion of more than 250,000 people, and the massacre of over 7,000 Muslims at Srebrenica in 1995.

Milosevic declined earlier this year to plead to charges of crimes against humanity in Croatia in 1991-92 and in Kosovo in 1999. The former Serb leader was handed over to the tribunal in June by the Belgrade reformers who defeated him in elections last year.

Mr Milosevic's trial on the Kosovo charges is set to begin on 12 February, but the prosecution will ask the court to combine all three indictments into a single trial. This trial will start several months later.

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