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While Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic defies the international community, the U.N. war-crimes tribunal heard evidence Friday that ethnic purges were a Bosnian Serb specialty.

Indicted twice with his army commander, Gen. Ratko Mladic, for genocide and crimes against humanity, Karadzic refuses to come to The Hague to stand trial.Instead, he's threatening to run in Bosnia's September elections, even though the Dayton peace accords prohibit indicted war crimes suspects from holding office.

The tribunal's hearing against the two men is aimed at prodding the international community into arresting them. The hearing, which is not a trial in absentia, will hear testimony from 15 witnesses.

Friday's first witness, French scholar Paul Garde, said that although all sides in the Bosnian conflict conducted ethnic purges, the majority were carried out by Serbs forces headed by Karadzic and Mladic.

Such purges featured massacres carefully designed to scare ethnic groups and eliminate their leaders, Garde told the three-judge panel.

On Thursday, the Yugoslav tribunal issued its first indictment exclusively for the crime of rape, indicting eight Serbs for the organized mass rape of Muslim women in the southeast Bosnian town of Foca.

The rape indictment details sexual abuse and enslavement of women and girls as young as 12 years old by their Serb captors from April 1992 until February 1993.

The indictment is a recognition of rape's use as a weapon to demean unwanted ethnic groups and drive them from entire regions.

Meanwhile, Karadzic told supporters Thursday he would compete in Bosnia's Sept. 14 elections unless certain conditions were met - including international recognition of the Bosnian Serb republic.

Such recognition would violate the Dayton peace accord, which recognizes a single Bosnia made up of two entities, Serb and Muslim-Croat.

The international community has threatened new sanctions on Serb-led Yugoslavia and the Bosnian Serbs if Karadzic doesn't step down by July 1.

Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic is seen by international observers as the only politician with the power to deliver Karadzic to the tribunal, but so far he has not done so.

The NATO-led peace implementation force in Bosnia says hunting for war crimes suspects is beyond its mandate.

Karadzic and Mladic were indicted for allegedly masterminding a string of atrocities blamed on rebel Serb forces in the 43-month war in Bosnia.

Established without enforcement powers, the tribunal has just seven of its 75 indicted war crimes suspects in custody.