Former Irish Army officer Colonel Colm Doyle has begun giving evidence in the trial of former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic at the War Crimes tribunal in The Hague.

During a two hour hearing, Colonel Doyle described his experiences during the Bosnian war as the head of the European Community's monitoring mission and as the representative of the International Peace Initiative.

Col Doyle told prosecutors that a senior Bosnian Serb politician had told him that even if Serb aspirations in Bosnia meant the deaths of three million people then, as she put it, we should get on with it.

Col Doyle had served on peacekeeping missions with the Irish Army in Cyprus, Lebanon and Syria during a career which spanned three decades.

In 1991, he became the main representative on the ground first of the European Community and later Lord Carrington, who headed the international peace initiative.

Initially the mission's role was to prevent the conflict triggered by the break up of Yugoslavia from spreading from Croatia into multi-ethnic Bosnia Herzegovina.

But as the Yugoslav army withdrew from Croatia the conflict between Serbs and Muslims in Bosnia intensified.

Col Doyle told the tribunal that guns and equipment from the Yugoslav army flooded into Bosnia and into the hands of the Serb paramilitaries.

He described the effect of Serb blockades and barricades on mixed communities, and he said he was repeatedly told that nothing could be decided without the express approval of Radovan Karadzic.

During his two years in Bosnia he had numerous meetings with Mr Karadzic.

On one occasion at a meeting in Brussels he showed the Bosnian Serb leader the pictures of emaciated Muslim prisoners in a Serb run detention camp.

On another occasion he was kidnapped while trying to negotiate the release of the Bosnia president and his family after they had been taken hostage.

Colonel Doyle continues his evidence next week.