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Karazdic Trial Begins

Former Bosnian Serb President Radovan Karadzic had long been one of the world's most wanted war crimes fugitives. After nearly 11 years on the run from justice he was captured, then extradited to The Hague, Netherlands, where he is to stand trial before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, or ICTY.

The pre-trial sessions of Radovan Karadzic have been marked by legal skirmishes since Karadzic first appeared before the court on July 31, 2008. On March 3rd, he appeared once again and once again refused to acknowledge the validity of the court. He entered no plea to the 2 counts of genocide and 9 counts of other atrocities with which he had been charged. The court once again automatically entered a not guilty plea on his behalf.

The early 1990s saw a sharp rise in nationalism in Yugoslavia. A series of conflicts and political upheavals resulted in the break-up of Yugoslavia into a number of smaller entities, often along ethnic lines. Between 1992 and 1996, Radovan Karadzic, an ethnic Serb living in Bosnia and Herzegovina, was President of Republika Srpska, a largely ethnic Serbian enclave within Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Today, Radovan Karadzic stands accused by the ICTY of personal and command responsibility for a campaign of ethnic cleansing against non-Serbs, resulting in the deaths of thousands of non-Serbs, and the dispossession of hundreds of thousands more. He is accused by the ICTY of ordering that United Nations personnel be taken hostage in the spring of 1995. And he is accused of ordering the Srebrenica genocide in July of 1995, the worst in Europe since World War 2.

In his announcement of U.S. initiatives on Bosnia and Herzegovina, then U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher said: "Bold tyrants and fearful minorities are watching to see whether 'ethnic cleansing' is a policy the world will tolerate. If we hope to promote the spread of freedom or if we hope to encourage the emergence of peaceful multiethnic democracies, our answer must be a resounding no," he said.