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Former Bosnian Commanders on Trial for War Crimes - 2003-12-02

The trial of two former Bosnian Muslim army commanders has opened in The Hague. It is the first trial of senior Bosnian Muslims to be held at the United Nations war crimes tribunal, where the men are charged with atrocities against Croats and Serbs.

The two former Bosnian Muslim army officers, General Enver Hadzihasanovic and Colonel Amir Kubura, are being held responsible for the crimes of their subordinates, including the alleged murder of at least 200 Bosnian Croats and Serbs in 1993 and 1994.

At that time, the Muslims and Croats, once allies against the Serbs, were at war in central Bosnia.

Prosecutors say most of the victims were either prisoners of war or civilians, and that the two defendants should have stopped war crimes from being committed but didn't.

Prosecutors say many of those fighters the officers failed to rein in were Muslims who came to the Balkans from Islamic countries to fight alongside Bosnia's Muslims as Yugoslavia violently broke up.

The two officers denied the charges when they were arrested two years ago and were released pending trial. A third man charged with them died this Spring.