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Milosevic denies 'Greater Serbia' quest

Sept. 1, 2004 at 7:47 AM

THE HAGUE, Netherlands, Sept. 1 (UPI) -- Former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic concluded his opening defense statement Wednesday at his war crimes trial by calling the process a farce.

"Thanks to the nature and contents of this false indictment, (the trial) has turned into a simple and pure farce," Milosevic told the three-judge panel at The Hague.

Milosevic faces 66 charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Balkans in the 1990s, but insists on representing himself.

He spent four hours in opening statements Tuesday, and was granted a further 90 minutes Wednesday, during which time he spoke of a conspiracy by the United States and Europe to break up the former Yugoslavia.

Regarding the fighting in Croatia in the early 1990s, he said Serbs were simply defending themselves and the Croatian authorities caused the war.

Although he insisted throughout the 1990s Belgrade had no role in the fighting in Bosnia, he made a rare acknowledgement of involvement.

"We did assist the Serbs (in Bosnia and Croatia) -- of course we did! We would have been the greatest scum of the earth not to assist them when their life was in danger," he said.

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