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The Yugoslav war crimes tribunal opened hearings Thursday aimed at pressuring the major powers to arrest its two most-wanted suspects.

Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic and his military commander Gen. Ratko Mladic are both accused of complicity in atrocities allegedly carried out by rebel Serb forces during the 43-month Bosnian war.The tribunal wants the two arrested, but so far Serbian and Bosnian Serb authorities have ignored the court's requests. NATO-led forces, fearing difficulties with the Serbs, have said it's not their job.

The tribunal decided to step up the pressure by publicly airing evidence of crimes.

Disclosing evidence "will create a climate inviting political leaders to adopt a robust policy with regard to the effective arrest of the accused," a tribunal statement said

A knot of Bosnian protesters calling for the arrest of Karadzic and Mladic stood on the lawn outside the U.N. court during the hearing, which started more than three hours late after the court discussed letting Karadzic's lawyer sit in court.

The judges ruled that Igor Pan-telic should be allowed in court to listen to the indictments being read, but he was then sent to sit in the public gallery for the rest of the proceedings.

Pantelic said he was protecting Karadzic's rights by ensuring he had sufficient legal representation. Before the hearing, Pantelic said he was in The Hague "to prepare a possible defense."

From the earliest shellings of Sarajevo to the alleged slaughter of Muslims in Srebrenica in July last year, prosecutors claim Karadzic and Mladic directed a campaign of Serb atrocities against Bosnia's non-Serb population.

The Dutch government has said one witness will be Lt. Col. Ton Karremans, who commanded Dutch troops guarding the U.N.-designated safe haven of Srebrenica when rebel Serbs overran the region last July.

A tribunal judge summarizing the Srebrenica indictment has said it contained "scenes from hell, written on the darkest pages of human history."

Tribunal spokesman Christian Chartier blamed Serbian and Bosnian Serb authorities for failing to arrest Karadzic and Mladic.

"Both accused have been seen many times in the past months and they should have been arrested," Chartier said.

Thursday's hearing was not to be a trial in absentia, which is not permitted under tribunal rules. Instead, Chartier said the tribunal will give witnesses and victims a chance to tell their stories and create a historical record of allegations.

That in itself indicates the tribunal's concern that its two prime suspects may never be tried.

The Dayton peace accords require the former warring parties as well as soldiers of the NATO-led peace implementation force to arrest and surrender suspects indicted by the tribunal. But the Serbs have so far rejected any such move, and the NATO force says its primary job is to protect the fragile peace.