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27.02.2009 International

Serb Ex-President Cleared Of War Crimes

By Daily Guide
Serb Ex-President Cleared Of War Crimes

Milan Milutinovic Former Serbian President Milan Milutinovic was Thursday found not guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Kosovo by a U.N. tribunal.

Five other former high-ranking Serb officials -- Nikola Sainovic, Dragoljub Ojdanic, Nebojsa Pavkovic, Vladimir Lazarevic and Sreten Lukic -- were found guilty on all or some of the same charges.

The judgment was the first by The Hague, Netherlands-based tribunal for crimes by the former Yugoslav and Serbian forces during a military campaign against Kosovo's ethnic Albanians in 1999.

Their crimes took place during a Serb-led military campaign against Kosovo's ethnic Albanian population during the first six months of 1999 before a NATO bombing campaign forced a halt to the operation.

Sainovic, former Yugoslav deputy prime minister and Pavkovic, a former Yugoslav army general were each sentenced to 22 years in prison for crimes against humanity and war crimes.  CNN

Lazarevic, another ex-general and Ojdanic, who was chief of general staff, were each sentenced to 15 years on charges of forced deportation of Kosovo's ethnic Albanian population.

The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia had heard during the two year tribunal how military forces of the former Republic of Yugoslavia and Serbia waged a campaign of terror against Kosovo Albanians.

The court said Milutinovic didn't have "direct individual control" over the army and that "in practice" then-Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic "exercised actual command authority" over the army during the NATO campaign.