Friday, February 27, 2009

Serbian ex-President Milan Milutinovic has been acquitted on charges of war crimes

Serbian ex-President Milan Milutinovic has been acquitted on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Kosovo by a UN war crimes tribunal

Mr Milutinovic was seen largely as a figurehead president during that time. 

The court found that the 66-year-old, who led Serbia from December 1997 to December 2002, had no direct control over the Yugoslav army. His release from custody was ordered. 

Judge Iain Bonomy pointed the finger at then-Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, saying: "In practice, it was Milosevic, sometimes termed the 'Supreme Commander', who exercised actual command authority over the [Serb army] during the Nato campaign." 

In the late 1990s, Milosevic's forces were attempting to suppress the ethnic Albanian majority's independence campaign in Kosovo. 

The region, under UN control after Nato drove out Serb forces in 1999, unilaterally declared independence from Serbia a year ago. 

Mr Milutinovic and his fellow defendants at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) - all of whom had been allies of Milosevic - had denied all the charges against them. 

His five co-accused were convicted for what the judges described as a "broad campaign of violence directed against the Kosovo Albanian civilian population". 

Ex-Yugoslav deputy prime minister Nikola Sainovic, ex-Yugoslav army general Nebojsa Pavkovic and former Serbian police public security service chief Sreten Lukic were found guilty on all counts and were each sentenced to 22 years in jail. 

The charges included deportation and forcible transfer, murder and persecution.

However five former Serbian top officials were found guilty on some or all the charges relating to the 1990s crimes. Their sentences range from 15 to 22 years. 

Nikola Sainovic - 22 years
Nebojsa Pavkovic - 22 years
Sreten Lukic - 22 years
Vladimir Lazarevic - 15 years
Dragoljub Ojdanic - 15 years

Read more in BBC


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