THE HAGUE, Netherlands — The trial of Radovan Karadzic starts today— one of the most significant war crimes cases to emerge from Europe's bloodiest conflict since World War II.
His refusal to show up at the Yugoslav war crimes tribunal is a blow to survivors who hold him responsible for tens of thousands of deaths during the brutal 1992-95 Bosnian war.
"We want to remind the Europeans that for 14 years we are waiting for justice. The Milosevic trial failed and now is the time for this justice to come," said Munira Subasic, who lost a husband and a son when Bosnian Serb forces murdered 8,000 Muslim men in the U.N.-protected Srebrenica enclave in July 1995.
Observers agree that the 64-year-old's absence from Courtroom One at the Yugoslav war crimes tribunal should not overshadow the case's significance.
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"The Karadzic trial is really the trial that the Yugoslavia tribunal was designed for," said Michael Scharf, a law professor at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio.
Karadzic has repeatedly refused to enter pleas, but insists he is innocent. He faces a maximum life sentence if convicted at his trial, which is expected to last at least two years.