Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

IN THE PAPERS

'When it comes to violence against women, the time to act is now'

Read more

EYE ON AFRICA

Mnangagwa to be sworn in as Zimbabwe's president on Friday

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

The refugees of Manus Island

Read more

EYE ON AFRICA

Zimbabwe's Tsvangirai says he hasn't been asked to be part of new government

Read more

THE DEBATE

Palestinian reconciliation: Will Fatah, Hamas agreement succeed?

Read more

FOCUS

Could Pakistan be your next holiday destination?

Read more

THE POLITICAL BRIEF

Defeated presidential candidate Fillon bids farewell to French politics

Read more

INSIDE THE AMERICAS

Charles Manson: Murderer and cult leader dies after 47 years in prison

Read more

PEOPLE & PROFIT

Bricks vs. clicks: Will e-commerce finish off the high street shop?

Read more

Europe

Former Serbian premier Milutinovic cleared of war crimes

Video by Louis MASSIE

Latest update : 2009-02-27

The UN war crimes tribunal in the Hague has acquitted former Serbian President Milan Milutinovic (pictured) of war crimes in the 1998-9 Kosovo conflict. He and five others were accused of the deportation and murder of ethnic Albanians.

REUTERS - Former Serbian president Milan Milutinovic was acquitted on Thursday by the Hague tribunal of war crimes against Kosovo Albanians in 1999, but his five co-accused were given jail terms of between 15 and 22 years.


“The Chamber is not satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that Milan Milutinoviæ made a significant contribution to the joint criminal enterprise,” Judge Iain Bonomy said, reading the verdict at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.


Milutinovic, 66, an ally and successor of late Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, and five co-accused went on trial in July 2006 charged with the deportation of 800,000 civilians from Kosovo and the murders of hundreds by Serb forces in 1999.


The verdict is the latest setback for prosecutors after Milosevic died in custody of a heart attack in March 2006 before a verdict had been reached in his war crimes trial.


Milutinovic was cleared on all five counts against him and ordered to be released from detention.


Former Yugoslav Deputy Prime Minister Nikola Sainovic, Yugoslav Army General Nebojsa Pavkovic and Serbian police chief Sreten Lukic were each sentenced to 22 years for crimes against humanity and violation of the laws or customs of war. Yugoslav Army General Vladimir Lazarevic and chief of general staff Dragoljub Ojdanic were found guilty of participating in the deportation and forcible transfer of ethnic Albanians from Kosovo and sentenced to 15 years.



MILOSEVIC BLAMED


Many Kosovo Albanians were angry that Milosevic’s death robbed them of a verdict on the crimes he was accused of in Kosovo and had said they hoped the trial of Milutinovic and his co-accused would offer some consolation.


“I thought this will give me relief but I feel more pain,” said Ajshe Shehu, who lost four sons and a husband in March 1999 in the village of Mala Krusa in Kosovo.


“Those who got 22 years will still be alive, but not my sons. I can’t even find their remains,” Shehu said.


The verdict laid much of the blame for the crimes against Milosevic, saying he had most authority and responsibility in the murders, rapes and deportations.


“In practice, it was Milosevic, sometimes termed the Supreme Commander, who exercised actual command authority,” Bonomy said.


The current head of the party founded by Milosevic said the verdicts and sentences of the five co-accused were unjustified.


“The verdict is a confirmation that this process has been political,” said Serbian Interior Minister Ivica Dacic, head of the Socialist Party of Serbia.

Date created : 2009-02-26

COMMENT(S)