[JURIST] Public hearings on the merits of a case alleging state-sponsored genocide by Serbia and Montenegro opened Monday at the Hague-based International Court of Justice [official website]. Proceedings technically began in March 1993, when Bosnia filed a claim [application text; ICJ case docket] alleging violations of the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide [text] against the former Yugoslavia during the 1992-1995 Bosnian war. Hearings on the merits were delayed while Serbia challenged the court's jurisdiction, but the court ruled in 1996 that it had jurisdiction to hear the dispute [judgment].
The hearings are expected to run until May 9 [ICJ press release] with a decision by the end of the year. The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia [official website] also at The Hague has already determined that the massacre of 8,000 Muslims by Serbs at Srebrenica [BBC backgrounder, JURIST news archive] was genocide. Lawyers for Bosnia will use evidence from the ongoing trial of Slobodan Milosevic [JURIST news archive] and other ICTY cases. Reuters has more.