Former security boss Jovica Stanisic told the Hague Tribunal that he was only doing his job during the 1990s wars, under orders from strongman leader Slobodan Milosevic.
Stanisic's defence team said that the prosecution at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, ICTY, had failed to prove he was responsible for war crimes in Bosnia and Croatia.
“They didn’t prove any of the charges without reasonable doubt. He was a high-ranking official, as prosecution claims, but all he did was according to his duties,” the defence said in its closing arguments in the trial on Wednesday.
The defence said that because he was Serbia's state security services boss during the 1990s conflicts, Stanisic was close to Milosevic and former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, who is also on trial for war crimes at the ICTY, but that their relationship was a professional one.
“He didn’t believe, as the prosecution claims, that it was possible to create a 'Greater Serbia',” the defence said.
According to the indictment, Stanisic and his state security colleague Franko Simatovic were members of a joint criminal enterprise that planned and ordered the execution and persecution of non-Serbs in Serb-controlled regions of Croatia and Bosnia from April 1991 until December 1995, with the aim of creating a large Serb state known as 'Greater Serbia'.
The indictment alleged that Milosevic, paramilitary commander Zeljko Raznatovic (also known as Arkan), former Croatian Serb leader of Goran Hadzic and Serbian Radical Party chief Vojislav Seselj were also part of this joint criminal enterprise alongside Simatovic and Stanisic.
Explaining Stanisic’s role in the war, the defence claimed that he advocated a peaceful end to conflict and that he strongly supported Vance-Owen peace plan, the first of several attempts to end the Bosnia conflict.
In January 1993, UN special envoy Cyrus Vance and European Community representative Lord David Owen began negotiating a peace proposal which involved the division of Bosnia into ten semi-autonomous regions.
But in May that year, the Bosnian Serb assembly rejected the Vance-Owen plan, leading Owen to declare that it was "dead".
This was the second day of closing arguments in the case against Stanisic and Simatovic. On Tuesday, the prosecution asked for life sentences for both defendants, saying that it was hard to imagine graver crimes than those committed under their command.
Both Simatovic and Stanisic were arrested in 2003 in Serbia and transferred to the Hague Tribunal shortly afterwards. Their trial began in 2008.
Closing arguments continue on Thursday.