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Crimes Tribunal Dismisses Milosevic Acquittal Bid

UN War Crimes Tribunal Dismisses Bid To Acquit Miloševic

The United Nations war crimes tribunal for the former Yugoslavia today dismissed a legal motion to acquit former Yugoslav President Slobodan Miloševic of charges of genocide and other crimes against humanity after finding there is enough evidence for him to answer.

In a decision handed down in The Hague, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) ruled that Mr. Miloševic must answer charges relating to events in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Kosovo during the Balkan wars of the 1990s.

The decision was not unanimous: Presiding Judge Patrick Robinson of Jamaica and Judge Iain Bonomy of the United Kingdom ruled separately against Mr. Miloševic, while Judge O-Gon Kwon of the Republic of Korea issued a dissenting judgment on some of the questions.

The ICTY also granted several challenges in favour of Mr. Miloševic, finding there was insufficient evidence to support certain allegations relating to some of the charges.

The legal motions for acquittal had been filed by so-called Friends of the Court, lawyers appointed by the ICTY to help ensure Mr. Miloševic receives a fair trial, at the conclusion of the prosecution case in February. The former Yugoslav leader does not recognize the court.

In dismissing the motion for acquittal, the ICTY rejected several submissions regarding Bosnia. The judges found there is enough evidence to show that there was a joint criminal enterprise – which included members of the Bosnian Serb leadership – to destroy part of Bosnia’s Muslims as a group; that Mr. Miloševic was part of the enterprise; and that the enterprise committed genocide.

The court ruled there is enough evidence to show that there was an armed conflict in Kosovo before the bombing campaign by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) began in March 1999.

The judges also ruled against a submission that some of the charges regarding Croatia should be dismissed because Croatia was not an independent state before early 1992 and therefore the conflict before then was not international.

But the ICTY found that some of the allegations relating to charges in Croatia and Bosnia could not be sustained by the evidence, and granted the motions confined to them.

Mr. Miloševic faces charges of genocide, crimes against humanity and violations of the laws or customs of war. He is expected to begin his defence case next month.

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