UN war crimes tribunal chief reports Serbia to Security Council

23 June 2008

The President of the United Nations tribunal set up to deal with the worst war crimes committed during the Balkan conflicts of the 1990s has reported Serbia to the Security Council for failing to cooperate with the court.

Judge Fausto Pocar of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) informed Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad of the United States, which holds the rotating Council presidency this month, that the Serbian Government had been unwilling to cooperate in the so-called ‘Milutinović and others’ case.

The ICTY trial chamber tried on a number of occasions between March and June this year to contact General Aleksander Dimitrijević, former head of the Yugoslav Army’s Security Administration, to have him appear as a witness in the Milutinović case.

Mr. Milutinović is on trial with five other former top Yugoslav political and military figures – Nikola Šainović, Nebojša Pavković, Dragoljub Ojdanić, Vladimir Lazarević and Sreten Lukić – over an alleged campaign of terror and violence directed against Kosovo Albanians and other non-Serbs living in Kosovo in 1999. All six men face charges of murder, deportation, forcible transfer and the persecution of thousands of Kosovo Albanians and other non-Serbs.

As Gen. Dimitrijević’s address in Serbia was not available to the ICTY, both the trial chamber and Judge Pocar urged Rasim Ljajić, the head of Serbia’s National Council for Cooperation, on a number of occasions to ensure the delivery of both the letter inviting the General to testify and the subsequent subpoena.

But the National Council for Cooperation’s response to requests from the tribunal for updates “were often delayed and incomplete,” according to a statement to the media issued today, and Gen. Dimitrijević failed to appear in court as well.

“The Government of Serbia is challenging the authority of the International Tribunal and the Security Council,” Judge Pocar said, adding that Serbia is therefore “in breach of its international legal obligations.”

 

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