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Hague Prosecution Opens Case Against Karadzic

Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic
THE HAGUE (Reuters) -- Prosecutors have launched their case against Radovan Karadzic for war crimes during the 1992-95 Bosnian war, but the former Bosnian Serb leader shunned the second day of his trial at the UN tribunal.

Karadzic has denied 11 war crimes charges arising from the violent break-up of Yugoslavia in the 1990s, including two genocide charges for the massacre of 8,000 Muslim men and boys at Srebrenica and for broader atrocities.

Prosecutor Alan Tieger spent the first 12 minutes of his opening statements describing how the "supreme commander" orchestrated ethnic-cleansing campaigns to eradicate Muslims from Bosnia, including the 43-month siege of Sarajevo.

"This case, your honors, is about that supreme commander. A man who harnessed the forces of nationalism, hatred, and fear to implement his vision of an ethnically separated Bosnia -- Radovan Karadzic," Tieger said.

Karadzic was not in court to hear the opening statement, his seat empty as he made good on a threat to boycott proceedings because he needs more to prepare for trial.

Judge O-Gon Kwon issued yet another warning to Karadzic to appear in the courtroom at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, or risk having counsel assigned to him and being tried in absentia.

"Should the accused persist in his refusal to attend the trial...the trial will proceed in his absence, and counsel will be assigned," the South Korean judge said ahead of the prosecution's remarks, adding that the court would make its decision after the prosecution's opening remarks end on November 2.