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ICTY trial begins for Bosnian Croat leaders charged with ethnic cleansing

[JURIST] The trial of six former high-ranking Bosnian Croat officials [ICTY case backgrounder] began Wednesday at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia [official website]. The defendants, including the former prime minister of the Croat region of Herceg-Bosna Jadranko Prlic, face multiple crimes against humanity charges [indictment, PDF], including murder, rape and deportation for allegedly organizing an ethnic cleansing campaign against Bosnian Muslims in an effort to create a separate state [Wikipedia backgrounder]. The other defendants are the region's then defense and interior ministers, heads of the Bosnian Croat militia, and the former military police commander.

The defendants surrendered to the ICTY in 2004 and pleaded not guilty before being released on bail [JURIST report] pending trial. According to an ICTY spokesperson, the trial chamber has given the prosecution one year to present its case [press briefing transcript], including direct and cross-examination of witnesses and procedural hearings. The trial is the ICTY's largest since six defendants [Kupreskic case backgrounder] were tried together in 1998. Reuters has more.

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