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Last Updated: Tuesday, 1 June, 2004, 07:48 GMT 08:48 UK
Vukovar war crimes trial halted
Vukovar was devastated by besieging Serb forces in 1991
One of Croatia's biggest war crimes trials was halted on its first day when one of 10 defendants due in court failed to show up.

A total of 35 ex-paramilitaries were originally charged with brutal attacks on non-Serbs, but 10 have died and 15 are being tried in their absence.

The alleged crimes took place near Vukovar in 1991 and 1992.

The town was under siege for three months by Serb forces and experienced some of the worst fighting of the war.

A separate trial of six Serbs over alleged atrocities in and around Vukovar began earlier this year in Belgrade.

And three former Serb army officers are awaiting trial in The Hague for their role in an alleged massacre of at least 200 people.

'Reign of terror'

Those on trial in Croatia itself, at Vukovar county court, are accused of conducting a reign of terror around the village of Miklusevci after it fell to Serb forces.

They are charged with carrying out killings, torture and robbery of non-Serbs living in the village between October 1991 and May 1992.

Eastern Croatia saw some of the most bitter fighting of the war as Croat forces fought for independence from the former Yugoslavia.

Vukovar suffered severe damage at the hands of besieging Serb forces in the winter of 1991.

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09 Mar 04  |  Europe
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09 Mar 04  |  Europe
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13 Jun 03  |  Europe

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