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'Big Three' Serb warlords who ended up in Hague dock

RATKO Mladic is the third of three Serbian leaders to face trial at The Hague for crimes committed during the conflicts that followed the break-up of Yugoslavia.

Radovan Karadzic, Mladic's former political master, was arrested on a bus in Belgrade in July 2008 after 13 years on the run. His trial, which began in October 2009, is about halfway completed. The prosecution closed its case earlier this month.

He is accused of being the "supreme commander" of an ethnic cleansing campaign of Muslims and Croats in the 1992-95 Bosnian war in which 100,000 people were killed and more than two million displaced. He faces 11 counts of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, He has claimed during his trial that the Serb cause was "just and holy" and that Serbs were fighting against the "fundamentalist Islamist goals" of Bosnian Muslims.

After initially boycotting the trial, Karadzic pleaded not guilty to charges which carry the penalty of life in jail.

Slobodan Milosevic, the former Serbian and Yugoslav president, was arrested in a village near Belgrade in April 2001, ending 15 years as one of the world's most-wanted fugitives.

He was put on trial the following year for crimes against humanity, but died of a heart attack in his cell in 2006 before judges could deliver their verdicts.

In 1987, as number two in the Serbian Communist Party, he was sent to Serbia's troubled province of Kosovo, telling rioting Serbs: "No one should dare to beat you again."

As president, he took Serbia into a series of disastrous wars. (© Daily Telegraph London)

Irish Independent