From Belgrade to The Hague

BELGRADE (AFP) – The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) has ruled that former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic will face a single trial from February 12 to face all charges against him of atrocities committed in the Balkans during the 1990s wars. Milosevic, 60, is the first former head of state to appear before an international tribunal for war crimes in what is seen as the most important case since top Nazi officials were tried at Nuremberg after World War II. He faces trial for the deaths of thousands of civilians in the wars in Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo. He is charged with extermination, deportation, persecution, murder and torture in Kosovo, Croatia and Bosnia and also faces one count of genocide for his role in the war in Bosnia, the bloodiest of the three conflicts. Milosevic has denied any responsibility for the conflicts that raged through the territory of the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s and has challenged the legitimacy of the court. Here is a brief timeline of the steps in Milosevic’s prosecution: 2000 – Oct. 7: Slobodan Milosevic concedes defeat to Vojislav Kostunica and resigns as president of Yugoslavia after 13 years in power. – Oct. 10: New Yugoslav President Kostunica says that the transfer of Milosevic to the UN court is «not a priority» for Belgrade. – Dec. 20: Yugoslav Foreign Minister Goran Svilanovic says that Milosevic is responsible for war crimes and «should face trial as soon as possible» – but in Serbia. 2001 – Jan. 25: War crimes prosecutor Carla del Ponte rejects out-of-hand a contention by the Yugoslav government that Milosevic face trial in his homeland rather than in The Hague. – March 10: The United States says that its continued aid to Belgrade hinges on Yugoslavia’s cooperation with the court. – April 1: Milosevic is arrested in Belgrade. Imprisoned on suspicion of abuses of power while president and financial misappropriations. – May 25: Serbian Interior Ministry official says Milosevic in 1999 ordered that measures be taken to «eliminate» all evidence on crimes committed in Kosovo. – June 14: Yugoslav government adopts a bill providing for cooperation with the war crimes tribunal. The bill is rejected by the Socialist-controlled Parliament on June 21. – June 23: Yugoslav government issues official decree clearing the way for Milosevic’s extradition to The Hague. – June 28: Milosevic is transferred to The Hague by Serbian government provoking the resignation of Yugoslav Prime Minister Zoran Zizic. – July 3: Milosevic refuses to recognize the UN war crimes tribunal and opts against entering a plea at his first hearing before the court, claiming the tribunal is «illegal.» – Oct. 9: Tribunal indicts Milosevic for war crimes in Croatia atrocities. – Nov. 23: Milosevic is formally charged by the tribunal with genocide in connection with the 1992-1995 war in Bosnia. – Dec. 11: UN tribunal decides to hold two war crimes trials. Allows joining of indictments over Milosevic’s suspected crimes in Bosnia and Croatia, but says the Kosovo charges will be dealt with in a separate trial. 2002 – Jan. 9: Milosevic challenges the court’s impartiality and neutrality. – Jan. 30: Milosevic asks the appeals chamber of the court to be freed and pledges to come back for all hearings. – Feb. 1: UN tribunal decides on appeal that Milosevic will face a single trial on all charges against him as opposed to two separate trials, and that it will «probably» begin on February 12.

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