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Bosnian Serb Begins War Crimes Trial at Hague - 2004-02-03

A former top Bosnian Serb official has gone on trial in The Hague on charges of taking a leading a role in ethnic cleansing during the Bosnian conflict of the early 1990s.

Prosecutor Mark Harmon said Tuesday that Momcilo Krajisnik held the "levers of power," along with war-time leader Radovan Karadzic, as Serbs sought to drive Bosnian Croats and Muslims from areas of Bosnia-Herzegovina. The AFP news agency quotes Mr. Harmon as describing the defendant as the Bosnian Serbs' chief policy maker, involved in the killing, persecution and forced transfer of people based on their race, religion or ethnic origin.

Momcilo Krajisnik faces eight counts of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes before the United Nations war crimes tribunal. He faces up to life in prison if convicted.

The trial is expected to last several months.

The tribunal has indicted Radovan Karadzic on genocide and other war crimes charges, but he remains at large.