NEWS

The charges against Milosevic

THE HAGUE (AFP) – Former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic has been charged with crimes related to his role in the three major conflicts that erupted after the disintegration of the federal Yugoslav state: the war in Croatia 1991-95, the 1992-95 Bosnian war and atrocities committed in Kosovo during 1998-99. He faces the following charges: Kosovo (1998-1999): Milosevic, together with four of his allies in a «joint criminal enterprise,» is accused of having «planned, instigated, ordered, committed or otherwise aided and abetted in a deliberate and widespread or systematic campaign of terror and violence directed at Kosovo Albanian civilians.» There are four charges of crimes against humanity and one of war crimes against Milosevic including deportation, forcible transfer, murder and persecutions on political, racial and religious grounds. In 1998-1999 the Yugoslav government cracked down on ethnic Albanians living in the Serbian province of Kosovo. The prosecution alleges that Milosevic, the Yugoslav president at the time, is individually responsible for «the campaign of ethnic cleansing in Kosovo» and also has ultimate responsibility for the acts of his subordinates. By June 1999, approximately 800,000 Kosovo Albanians, about one third of the entire Kosovo Albanian population, had been expelled from Kosovo. Thousands more were internally displaced. The indictment lists 900 known dead: Men, women and children killed in separate incidents or mass killings like the January 1999 massacre in Racak, which took 45 lives. Croatia (1991-1995): On October 9, 2001, the UN war crimes tribunal formally indicted Milosevic for his role in the 1991-1995 war in Croatia. The indictment charges the former Serb strongman with participating in a «joint criminal enterprise» from August 1991 until at least 1992. The purpose of the enterprise was the «forcible removal of the majority of the Croat and other non-Serb population from the approximately one third of the territory of the Republic of Croatia he planned to become part of a new Serb-dominated state,» according to the prosecution. The indictment accuses Milosevic of the murder of hundreds of non-Serb civilians and the deportation of at least 170,000 Croats and other non-Serbs. There are 10 charges of crimes against humanity against the former president, including persecution, extermination, imprisonment, torture, deportation and inhumane acts. In addition, he is charged with violations of the laws and customs of war and with violations of the 1949 Geneva Convention on wartime conduct. Bosnia (1992-1995): For his role in the bloodiest conflict in the series of wars that followed the disintegration of the Republic of Yugoslavia, in Bosnia, Milosevic faces a charge of genocide, the gravest of war crimes. The Geneva Convention defines genocide as «acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group.» The genocide charge specifically lists «the widespread killing of thousands of (non-Serbs) during and after the takeover of territories» and cites the 1995 massacre of Srebrenica. Bosnian-Serb forces killed over 7,000 Muslim men after they took over the enclave. The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia considers the Srebrenica massacre genocide. In the charge the killing of thousands of non-Serbs in detention camps, like the infamous Omarska and Keraterm camps in northwestern Bosnia, and detaining people «in conditions of life calculated to bring about the partial physical destruction of those groups» are also separate points. The indictment lists over 9,000 dead and states the former president participated in a «joint criminal enterprise» the purpose of which was the «forcible and permanent removal of the majority of non-Serbs, principally Bosnian Muslims and Bosnian Croats, from large areas of the Republic of Bosnia and Hercegovina.» The Bosnia indictment also charges Milosevic with 29 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity including persecution, murder and torture. The former president is held responsible for the killing of thousands of Bosnian Muslims and Bosnian Croats during the war that left over 200,000 dead and one million refugees. Unlike the Serb crackdown in Kosovo, where Milosevic was officially at the head of operations, the chain of command in Croatia and Bosnia is murkier. During the period outlined in the indictments, Milosevic was the president of Serbia. The prosecution states he was the dominant political figure in Serbia and had control over «all facets of the Serbian government» including the police, state security services and the Yugoslav army. Milosevic is charged with providing «financial, material and logistical support» for regular and irregular Serb forces in Croatia and Bosnia. «Our organizational restructuring activities will continue. All kinds of changes and innovations which are part of our democratic transformation, including our name, will be ultimately decided at our forthcoming eighth party congress,» the statement said.