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UN War Crimes Trial Begins in Srebrenica Massacre


The trial of seven former Bosnian Serb military and police officers facing genocide or other charges opened Friday at the U.N. war crimes tribunal at The Hague.

The men are accused of taking part in the massacre of thousands of Bosnian Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica in July 1995. Five of the former officers - Ljubisa Beara, Ljubomir Borovcanin, Vinko Pandurevic, Drago Nikolic and Vujadin Popovic - face various charges, including genocide and extermination. The other two, Radivoje Miletic and Milan Gvero, are charged with such crimes as murder and persecution.

Chief prosecutor Carla del Ponte sparred with defense attorneys moments after she started to deliver an opening speech recalling this week's ceremonies marking the 11th anniversary of the massacre.

The defense objected to the speech, saying her comments should be part of formal opening statements scheduled for August 21st when the court returns from a recess. The judges agreed.

Bosnian Serb military chief Ratko Mladic, the main suspect in the slaughter at Srebrenica, remains at large.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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