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Karadzic a no-show as his trial on ethnic-cleansing charges begins

The trial of former Bosnian Serb President Radovan Karadzic on ethnic-cleansing charges began Thursday in the Hague with Karadzic staying away, saying he needs more time to prepare his defense.

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Had accused war criminal Radovan Karadzic attended the start of his trial at the War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands, here's where he would have sat Monday.

Peter Dejong/AP

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The Bosnia genocide case against Radovan Karadzic opened Tuesday in what may be the most important remaining case tried by the 13-year old special tribunal on the former Yugoslavia, according to many jurists.

More than 6,000 days after Serb snipers opened fire April 5, 1992 from atop the Holiday Inn in Sarajevo on a peace march, killing a medical student from Dubrovnik – the first casualty of Bosnia's war – prosecutors accused the former Bosnian Serb president of ordering the shot that helped set the Balkans alight in the 1990s.

Speaking quietly but clearly prosecutor Alan Tieger relentlessly outlined a series of actions that he says show Mr. Karadzic was the "supreme commander" and "preeminent" authority among Bosnian Serbs between 1991 and 1996, when the behavior of their armed forces placed a new phrase in the world's political lexicon: "Ethnic cleansing."

Karadzic pursued "a pure Serbian state on what he considered historically Serbian territory," Tieger told the court, requiring elimination of "enemies within." He said his case will demonstrate that Karadzic sought to "ethnically cleanse Bosnia…for Bosnian Serb living space."

The "Greater Serbia" project required "many persons," Tieger said, but argued that the "undisputed leader of the Bosnian Serbs throughout was Radovan Karadzic."

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