War Crimes Tribunal to Consider Yugoslav Cases

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The first war crimes tribunal since World War II opened Wednesday to prosecute those suspected of committing atrocities in the Yugoslav conflicts.

Eleven judges took oaths that enable them to indict, try and sentence suspects for crimes against humanity in Bosnia-Herzegovina and other former Yugoslav republics.

Experts on international law note that, unlike the 1945-1949 Nuremberg trials of the Nazi hierarchy, this tribunal has neither suspects in custody nor documentary proof of guilt. "The procedure for arresting people still has to be invented," said Frits Kalshoven, former chairman of the Commission of Experts, the investigative body that has been gathering information on the Bosnian atrocities.

"I think that there is a good chance that the tribunal will be a success and there will be convictions at the end of the road," he said in an interview. "But anyone who has the expectation that there will be convictions soon is an idiot."

In an oblique reference to Serbs who have refused to cooperate with war crimes investigations, the United Nations' top lawyer warned that the U.N.-sponsored tribunal would have the muscle of the U.N. Security Council behind it. But the lawyer, Carl-August Fleischhauer, refused to specify how U. …