Serbs dismiss Bosnian 'propaganda' over genocide charge

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SERBIA and Montenegro yesterday launched a defence against Bosnian accusations of state-sponsored genocide in the 1992-95 war, in a landmark case at the highest UN court.

Sasa Obradovic, a lawyer for Serbia and Montenegro, said Bosnia presented "false and inaccurate allegations" at the International Court of Justice last week, including charges that Serbian forces threw children into ovens.

"This kind of allegation was the worst type of war propaganda, aiming only to shock the conscience of mankind and to portray the enemy as a bloodthirsty barbarian," Mr Obradovic told the court. "These improbable allegations should demonstrate that their sources cannot be taken as reliable," he said.

This is the first case in which a state is on trial for genocide, outlawed in a UN convention in 1948 after the Holocaust. The hearings at the ICJ in the Hague, also known as the World Court, are set to run until 9 May. A ruling is expected by the year's end. If Bosnia wins, it could seek billions of dollars in compensation.

The UN war crimes tribunal has already ruled that a 1995 Serb massacre of 8,000 Muslims at Srebrenica was genocide.

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