UN Charges Karadzic, Mladic With Genocide

THE HAGUE, Netherlands -- Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic and his military chief Ratko Mladic were charged with genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity by the UN criminal tribunal for the former Yugoslavia on Tuesday.

The tribunal issued five indictments charging a total of 24 Bosnian and Croatian Serbs with crimes ranging from genocide to breaches of the Geneva Conventions.

Created by the UN Security Council in 1993, the Hague-based tribunal is the first body of its kind since the Nuremberg and Tokyo war crimes trials after World War II.

Spokesman Christian Chartier said arrest warrants had been issued against all 24 accused.

"Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic are charged with genocide and crimes against humanity ... arising from atrocities perpetrated against the civilian population throughout Bosnia-Herzegovina, for the sniping campaign against civilians in Sarajevo and for the taking of UN peacekeepers as hostages and their use as human shields," a tribunal statement said.

Milan Martic, leader of the breakaway Croatian Serbs based in Knin, was charged with crimes relating to the firing of cluster bombs into central Zagreb in May 1995.

Two other Bosnian Serbs -- Dusko Sikirica, commander of the Keraterm camp in Prijedor, and Goran Jelisic, commander of the Luka camp in Brcko where he called himself the "Serb Adolf" -- were also charged with genocide.

A further 19 men were accused of various crimes against humanity.

The tribunal said in the summer of 1992, Bosnian Serbs held over 3,000 Moslems and Croats at the Keraterm camp. "Detainees were killed, sexually assaulted, tortured, beaten and otherwise subjected to cruel and inhuman treatment," it said.

In one incident machine guns were fired into a room filled with 140 detainees who all died.

Prosecutor Richard Goldstone said investigations were also being conducted into allegations of serious crimes by Bosnian Croats and Bosnian Moslems and that his staff was monitoring the current situation in the former Yugoslavia.

"That serious violations of humanitarian law have taken place in Bosnia-Herzegovina over the past three weeks is manifest. Those events are under investigation by my office," Goldstone said in a statement, adding that the latest indictments could be amended to include more recent crimes.

Karadzic and Mladic are accused of ordering the shelling of civilians, including the May 1995 attack on Tuzla Plaza when 195 people were killed, and the seizure this summer of 284 UN peacekeepers in Pale and Gorazde.

They are also charged with persecuting Moslem and Croatian political leaders, deporting thousands of civilians, and systematically destroying Moslem and Catholic sacred sites.

The tribunal had previously indicted 22 Bosnian Serbs for various war crimes so the latest indictments bring the total number of people charged to 46.

So far the tribunal has taken custody of only one suspect, Bosnian Serb Dusand Tadic, who was arrested in Germany last year and handed over to the tribunal in April.