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Mladic starts defense at U.N. genocide trial

  • FILE - In this Jan. 28, 2014 file image taken from video former Bosnian Serb military chief Gen. Ratko Mladic smiles during his appearance at the Yugoslav war crimes tribunal in the Hague, Netherlands. (AP Photo/ICTY, Via Associated Press Television, File)

THE HAGUE: Former Bosnian Serb military chief Gen. Ratko Mladic has launched the defense case in his long-running U.N. trial by calling a former Serb army officer who claims he was never ordered to fire on civilians in the besieged Bosnian capital.

Mile Sladoje, a former assistant commander of a Serb battalion in Sarajevo, was the first witness called by Mladic on Monday in the trial on charges including genocide.

A summary of his testimony read by one of Mladic's lawyers made clear that Sladoje will deny ever being ordered by Mladic to deliberately target civilians with a sniping campaign - one of the key charges Mladic faces.

The 72-year-old Mladic denies 11 charges of ordering Serb atrocities throughout the 1991-95 Bosnian war. He faces a life sentence if convicted.

 
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