The United Nations war crimes tribunal in The Hague has thrown out one charge of genocide against wartime Bosnian Serb political leader Radovan Karadzic.
A second genocide charge against Karadzic remains. It is related to the 1995 massacre of some 8,000 Muslim men and boys at Srebrenica in July 1995.
The dropped genocide charge had alleged that Karadzic had a role in the expulsions and killings of non-Serbs in Bosnian towns at the start of the 1992-95 war in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
But Hague tribunal Judge O-Gon Kwon ruled that there was not enough evidence to substantiate the definition of genocide in relation to killings by Bosnian Serb forces in Bosnian towns and villages during 1992.
Karadzic's lawyer, Peter Robinson, welcomed the ruling -- saying that both he and Karadzic thought it was "a courageous decision to say at this stage of the case that there was no genocide in the municipalities in Bosnia in 1992."
But Robinson said he expects the prosecution to appeal the decision.
Prosecutors had no immediate reaction. But survivors of the Bosnia war -- which led to the deaths of 100,000 people -- said the decision could set back any reconciliation.
Karadzic was arrested in 2008, some 13 years after he was first indicted on charges of masterminding Serb atrocities during the war. His trial started in 2009 and prosecutors rested their case in May.
On June 11, Karadzic asked the judges at his genocide trial to dismiss all charges against him.
Karadzic said the prosecutors had tried "to make some kind of an indictment out of nothing."
His lawyers argued that genocide had not taken place in Bosnia in 1992.
Under the rules of the UN tribunal, defendants can seek acquittal after prosecutors finish presenting their case.
The judges are then required to rule on the request before the defense puts forward its case. Karadzic is expected to start arguing his case on October 16.
In addition to the remaining genocide charge on Srebrenica, Karadzic still faces nine other charges -- including crimes against humanity and war crimes -- for his alleged role in orchestrating a violent campaign to eliminate non-Serbs from parts of Bosnia.
Karadzic's former military chief, General Ratko Mladic, also is on trial in The Hague on almost identical charges. The first witness in that trial is scheduled to begin testifying in early July.
Based on reporting by Reuters, AP and AFP