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Bosnia opens new war crimes court

[JURIST] Bosnia [government website] opened its own war crimes court in Sarajevo Wednesday in a move hailed by leaders of the international war crimes tribunal at The Hague who anticipate it will absorb some of that court's backlog as well as gradually devolve legal responsibility for prosecuting local war crimes to local authorities. ICTY prosecutor Carla Del Ponte, who spoke [speech text] at Wednesday's ceremony along with ICTY President Theodore Meron [speech text], says she expects to transfer seven cases to the new court soon, which may get an additional three if the ICTY is to remain on track for handling its remaining suspects and ceasing operations by 2010. Four Serb indictees have already objected to the transfer of their cases to the mainly-Muslim jurisdiction. The Bosnian war crimes court is technically a chamber of the Court of Bosnia-Herzegovina and will gradually be staffed by Bosnians, although most of the current staff are international. It will adjudicate crimes alleged to have been committed in the 1992-95 ethnic Bosnia war which claimed more than 200,000 lives. Bosnian lower courts have already tried some 1000 war crimes cases with permission of the ICTY but serious cases had previously been the responsibility of The Hague. AFP has more.

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