The United Nations war crimes tribunal in The Hague has agreed to combine the cases of nine people facing charges in connection with the 1995 Srebrenica massacre in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Chief prosecutor Carla del Ponte had requested the suspects be tried together. Eight of the Bosnian Serb officers are in the tribunal's custody. The ninth is still at large.

The suspects face charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. Their trial is expected to begin in 2006.

Some 8,000 Muslim men and boys were killed after Serb forces overran Srebrenica, an enclave the United Nations had declared as a Muslim safe-haven.

The killings have also led to genocide charges against former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic and his top military commander, Ratko Mladic.

The massacre is considered the worst atrocity in Europe since the end of World War II.

Some information for this report provided by AFP.