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Key quotes from the prosecution

THE HAGUE, Netherlands -- The following are excerpts from the opening statements of Carla Del Ponte, chief prosecutor, at the start of the trial on Tuesday of former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic:

"This tribunal, and this trial in particular, gives the most powerful demonstration that no one is above the law or beyond the reach of international justice."

"An excellent tactician, a mediocre strategist, Milosevic did nothing but pursue his ambition at the price of unspeakable suffering inflicted on those who opposed him or who represented a threat to his personal strategy for power."

"The events themselves were notorious and a new term, 'ethnic cleansing', came into common use in our language."

"These crimes touch every one of us where ever we live because they offend against our deepest principle of human rights and human dignity."

"Many victims cannot come before you because they did not survive."

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"The international community was shocked to witness the vicious disintegration of a modern state and the Security Council of the United Nations was quick to recognise the grave threat posed by the serious crimes it believed were being committed."

"Collective guilt forms no part of the prosecution case. It is not the law of this tribunal and I make it clear that I reject the very notion."

"The chamber will receive testimony from high-ranking military figures, diplomats, government representatives and other persons of rank and function, who for different reasons the chamber will understand cannot be named today."

"People throughout the world following these proceedings will be watching to see the extent to which their own leaders are committed to achieving the aims of international justice in this forum."

"It is unfortunate that the accused has attempted to use his appearances before this chamber to make interventions of a political nature. I can assure the chamber that in the case before us the prosecution will not allow itself to be drawn into any such exchanges. This is a trial chamber not a debating chamber."

"I shall not allow myself any advantage from the fact the accused has chosen not to be legally represented."

"The proceeding upon which the chamber embarks today is clearly the most important trial to be conducted in the tribunal to date. Indeed it may prove to be the most significant trial that this institution will ever undertake."

"One must not seek ideals underlying the acts of the accused. Beyond the nationalist pretext and the horror of ethnic cleansing, behind the grandiloquent rhetoric and the hackneyed phrases he used the search for power is what motivated Slobodan Milosevic."

"Everything your honours, everything, was an instrument in the service of his quest for power."


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