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Judge delays Mladic war crimes trial

THE HAGUE, Netherlands -- An apparent clerical error prompted judges to postpone the long-awaited war crimes trial of former Bosnian Serb military leader Ratko Mladic yesterday, possibly for months.

The delay cast a shadow over one of the court's biggest cases and over the reputation of the court itself, where most prominent trials have proceeded at a snail's pace, frustrating victims.

It also highlighted problems faced by international tribunals in prosecuting sweeping indictments covering allegations of atrocities spanning years in countries far from the courts where defendants face justice.

"It is fraught with delay because of the volume of documentation and scope of alleged crimes," said Richard Dicker of Human Rights Watch. "Add to that the need to translate and it really takes it to a whole new level of complexity that you don't see in domestic trials."

Presiding Judge Alphons Orie said he was delaying the Yugoslav war crimes tribunal case because of "significant disclosure errors" by prosecutors, who are obliged to share all evidence with Mladic's lawyers. -- AP

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