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War crimes

War crimes trials set to begin in The Hague

Two separate trials of leaders accused of crimes against humanity during the Bosnian war are scheduled to begin on Tuesday. Both men standing trial are seeking to convince the courts of their innocence.

The trial of former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic is scheduled to begin with a statement by the defendant before the UN's Yugoslav war crimes court, in which he will detail his involvement in the Bosnian war in the early 1990s. Karadzic reportedly plans to speak for at least 90 minutes.

Of the charges Karadzic faces, his role in the Srebrenica massacre is expected to take center stage. The prosecution alleges that the former leader is responsible for the murder of nearly 8,000 Muslim men and boys during the massacre in eastern Bosnia in 1995.

The defendant's legal adviser, Peter Robinson, told the new agency AFP that Karadzic plans to admit he knew of the killings, but that he wants to "challenge the scale of the massacre."

Karadzic has received 300 hours from the court for his trial, during which he plans to call on 300 witnesses in his defense.

Serbian authorities apprehended the alleged war criminal in Belgrade 2008, who had been on the run for 13 years.

Meanwhile in The Hague on Tuesday, the UN court is set to begin the trial of the former Crotian Serb leader Goran Hadzic. His is the final trial for the tribunal, which heard 161 cases of indicted suspects.

Hadzic, who had proclaimed himself president of the Republic of Serbian Krajina during the early 1990s, has been charged with crimes against humanity during the same time period. The former rebel leader is accused of murdering hundreds of Croats. Hadzic also faces charges for expelling tens of thousands.

Serbian authorities arrested Hadzic last year.

kms/sej (AP, AFP, dpa, Reuters)