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Mladic War-Crimes Trial Adjourned


Former Bosnian Serb army commander Ratko Mladic at his trial at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague on May 16.

Former Bosnian Serb army commander Ratko Mladic at his trial at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague on May 16.

The United Nations war crimes tribunal has adjourned indefinitely the trial of former Bosnian Serb military chief Ratko Mladic -- just a day after it opened.

Alphons Orie, the presiding judge of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in the Dutch capital, The Hague, said on May 17 that he was suspending the trial due to "errors" made by prosecutors in presenting evidence to Mladic's defense lawyers.

The judge said he aims to establish a date for the resumption of the trial "as soon as possible."

Before the adjournment, prosecutors had described Mladic's alleged role in the 1995 Srebrenica massacre.

They say there is evidence showing that troops under Mladic's command were responsible for the killing of some 8,000 Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica, a northeastern Bosnian town.

The slaughter was the worst atrocity in Europe since World War II.

Mladic, 70, is also accused of leading a criminal campaign to kill or drive out of Bosnia the Muslims, Croats, and other non-Serbs as part of a scheme to create a "Greater Serbia" during the 1992-1995 conflict.

Mladic has denied any wrongdoing.

He had spent 16 years in hiding before he was arrested in Serbia last year.

'Unassailable Evidence'

Speaking at The Hague court on May 17, ICTY prosecutor Peter McCloskey maintained that there was "overwhelming and unassailable" evidence that the killings at Srebrenica amounted to genocide.

McCloskey claimed there was evidence proving that Mladic not only was in command of the troops who committed the crimes, but was also "on the ground and personally involved" when the atrocities were taking place.

Mladic had also been indicted in relation to the 44-month siege of Sarajevo, during which more than 10,000 people died.

Prosecutors say they have evidence against Mladic from more than 400 witnesses.

Experts say a trial against Mladic could last up to three years. If convicted, Mladic faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.

Based on reporting by AFP and dpa

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