BELGRADE, Serbia, July 6 (UPI) -- Prosecutors at the U.N. war crimes tribunal in The Hague said they are dropping some lesser charges against ex-Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic to speed up his trial.
Milosevic faces charges of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes in Kosovo, Croatia and Bosnia.
In a document published Saturday, prosecutors said they will be bent on proving genocide only in cases of persecution and killings of Bosnian Muslims between 1992 and 1995, and limit themselves to seven municipalities of Bosnia-Herzegovina.
The first segment of the trial of Milosevic for crimes allegedly committed against Kosovo Albanians by Yugoslav army and Serbian police forces in 1999 started on February 12 and was due to end by July 26. But because of Milosevic's two spells of illness forced recesses totaling more than a month, the trial chamber allowed the prosecution to extend submitting evidence for crimes in Kosovo, an autonomous province within Serbia, for a further two weeks in September after the summer recess.
The prosecution has now been given until the end of April next year to complete presenting evidence against Milosevic for his command responsibility for crimes against non-Serb populations in Croatia and Bosnia, two of the six federal units of the now defunct Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, as well as in Kosovo.
The most drastic examples of an intention by Bosnian Serbs to destroy part of the Muslim population and their most prominent representatives occurred in the towns of Brcko, Prijedor, Sanski Most, Kotor Varos, Kljuc, Bosanski Novi and especially Srebrenica and their surroundings, the prosecutors said.
Unlike the other five former Yugoslav republics -- Serbia, Montenegro, Slovenia, Croatia and Macedonia -- which are dominated by single ethic groups, Bosnia-Herzegovina had an almost inextricably scrambled mixture of three peoples. Slav Muslims, who now call themselves Bosniacs, formed about 40 percent of Bosnia's four million, Serbs about 35 percent, and Croats about 20 percent.
In the early 1990s, Milosevic, then Serbian president, sent federal troops to other republics in a bid to prevent them from declaring independence from the federal Yugoslavia. The attempt failed in Slovenia and Croatia, where local forces offered strong resistance and forced the Yugoslav army out.
But in Bosnia-Herzegovina, the Serbian-led federal army succeeded at one time in capturing some 70 percent of the territory, allegedly committing widespread atrocities against Muslims and Croats in the process.
The mostly Muslim-populated town of Srebrenica in the southeast suffered what U.N. authorities say were an estimated 7,000 to 8,000 Muslims dead at the hands of Bosnian Serbian Gen. Ratko Mladic. The United Nations later indicted Mladic for genocide, together with his political chief Radovan Karadzic and Milosevic, saying the leaders had been in overall control and in collusion with other Bosnian Serb military and civilian officials.
The conflict ended in November 1995, when Milosevic signed the Dayton peace accords in his own name and on behalf of the Bosnian Serbs. Under the accords, Bosnia-Herzegovina was divided into two equal entities, the Bosnian Federation and Republika Srpska, the Serb enclave with an almost entirely Serb population.
The tribunal's deputy chief prosecutor Graham Blewitt said in The Hague Saturday, "The prosecution believes to possess sufficient evidence for the claim that genocide was committed against Bosnian Muslims" to prosecute Milosevic.
Bosnian Serb Gen. Radislav Krstic, one of Mladic's top officers, has already been sentenced by the tribunal to 46 years imprisonment for genocide in Bosnia-Herzegovina, specifically in connection with the massacre in Srebrenica.
"As for genocide against Bosnian Croats, there is evidence there too, but it is not sufficient to prove the charge," Blewitt said.