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More Charges Likely Against Milosevic -UN Official

Reuters Tuesday, October 26 1999 01:40 PM EDT

Prishtina (Reuters) - An official with the U.N. war crimes tribunal said Tuesday that findings from investigations of mass graves in Kosova should lead to more charges against Yugoslavia President Slobodan Milosevic.

Kelly Moore, spokeswoman for the court's Kosova operations, said that the work on exhuming bodies would be suspended on October 31 for winter, with 150 of 500 suspected sites completed in four months of intensive work by 300 experts from 15 countries.

She said the investigations had helped to expand on the evidence that was used to indict Milosevic and four of his top Yugoslav-Serb aides on war crimes charges last May.

``I think now after several months of additional investigation it's clear that the present charges will be expanded upon to include events of 1998, to include additional individuals and also to include additional charges such as genocide,'' she said.

Moore said the indictment announced in May was for crimes alleged to have been committed from January 1 through late May, leaving out all the alleged massacres of ethnic Albanians the previous year.

She was speaking the same day that Carla del Ponte, the recently appointed special prosecutor for The Hague-based tribunal, was due to arrive in Macedonia for her first tour of the Balkans, including Kosova.

For the past four months, forensic experts have been combing the hillsides, valleys and graveyards of Kosova in the hunt for war crimes evidence and to check reports of slaughtering of ethnic Albanian men, women and children by Serbs during the 11-week NATO bombing campaign against Yugoslavia.

EXHUMATIONS TO RESUME IN SPRING

Moore said it was not an ideal situation to have to suspend the exhumations for the winter, but said forensic work would continue in the meantime.

``Despite the fact that we're having some unseasonably warm weather, with the onset of winter, which is coming any day now, it just isn't possible to exhume bodies out of frozen ground and conduct autopsies outside, which is really what they've been doing,'' Moore told Reuters Television in an interview.

``Quite clearly we are going to have to mount every bit as ambitious an effort next year as we did this year in order to get a sizeable number of those sites completed,'' she said.

She declined to say how many bodies have been exhumed so far, saying all reports were not in from the forensic teams, but court officials have said previously that the number was in the thousands.

And she said the experience gleaned from forensic examinations in Bosnia, where teams are investigating massacres committed during the Bosnian War five years ago, showed that usable results were still possible years after the crime.

``It's amazing what technology can do and just because there is some time delay does not render the evidence unusable or inaccessible,'' she said.

``And if an individual has been shot in the head that will be discovered whether they exhume the body now or whether they exhume the body next April or May,'' she added.

 

Canadian Kosovars, Serbs who enlisted in war get reprieve

No laws broken: RCMP: War Crimes Tribunal could still charge Canadians who committed atrocities

Stewart Bell National Post

Canadians who voyaged to the Balkans this year to enlist in the rebel Kosova Liberation Army during its battle against Yugoslav forces will not face criminal prosecution, the RCMP announced yesterday.

"In our opinion, and that of our legal advisers, the facts surrounding some people going to the former Yugoslavia didn't meet the burden of proof that needed to be established," said Sergeant Andre Guertin, the RCMP's media relations officer.

The ruling brings an end to speculation, rampant within Canada's Serbian and Albanian ethnic communities, that Ottawa might bring charges against Kosovars who returned to their homeland to fight.

The Immigration Department has already said it will not pursue war crimes charges against Canadians who enlisted -- although individuals who committed atrocities could still be tried by the International War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague.

After small groups of young Canadians of ethnic-Albanian heritage started joining the KLA at the height of the Serbian ethnic-cleansing campaign last spring, the RCMP requested the Solicitor-General to review whether their actions violated Canadian law.

In particular, police wanted to know if the volunteers had violated Criminal Code sections on treason as well as the Foreign Enlistment Act, which makes it illegal for Canadians to fight against fellow Canadians in a war.

But Sgt. Guertin said the enlistment act did not apply because there was no official declaration of war in Kosova, and that there were also insufficient grounds to justify charges of treason.

"It's something that we looked at, being Canada's national police force. These people made it abundantly clear what their intentions were and they are Canadian citizens, so it put the onus on us to look at it," Sgt. Guertin said.

More than a dozen ethnic Albanians, mostly from Ontario, made their way to Albania last spring, where they enlisted in the KLA, the rebel force that fought for Kosova's independence from Yugoslavia, igniting a campaign that saw more than a million people displaced from their homes.

Most of the Canadian KLA members have now returned to Canada, although a few remain. Although none ever saw any combat (the closest they got to the frontlines were KLA training camps in northern Albania), they have been keeping a low profile out of fear that Canada was considering charges against them.

"They are afraid now," said Agim Hadri, a spokesman for the Kosova Information Centre in Toronto.

But he said the volunteers know they did the right thing by volunteering to help the KLA protect civilians from the "genocidal massacre" orchestrated by the Serbs and their leader, Slobodan Milosevic.

The RCMP said the ruling would also apply to Canadians who fought on the Serbian side of the conflict, but it is unclear whether any actually did so.

"That's interesting," Daniel Dostanic, spokesman for the pro-Serbian Centre for Peace in the Balkans, said when told of the decision.

"These guys went over to do that kind of stuff and Canada's not charging them?"

The KLA officially disbanded last month, following the NATO victory in Kosova. Under an agreement brokered by the United Nations and NATO, the rebel army is being transformed into an unarmed civilian force that will help rebuild the region.

 

Kosova flights blocked for sixth day

07:47 a.m. Oct 25, 1999 Eastern

Prishtina, Oct 25 (Reuters) - Commercial flights to Kosova remained blocked for a sixth day on Monday as Macedonia appeared to take Yugoslavia's side in a row with the NATO-led KFOR peacekeeping force over the route.

``There is no development in the airport matter,'' KFOR spokesman Major Ole Irgens told a news briefing.

``I don't think there have been any high level meetings between KFOR and the Macedonian government. We are just waiting for this issue to be resolved.''

Belgrade, which sees the flights as a violation of its sovereignty, issued a notice last Wednesday barring flights to Kosova.

KFOR protested to Eurocontrol, the organisation governing European air traffic, which overruled the ban. But the former Yugoslav republic of Macedonia, over which the flights must pass, has yet to comply with the overruling.

Passengers on a flight from Vienna to Prishtina, capital of the Serbian province, had already boarded the plane on Monday before they were told it would be going to the Macedonian capital Skopje instead.

Much of the commercial traffic to Kosova, whose two million population has been swelled by tens of thousands of peacekeepers and members of other international organisations, passed through Skopje before the direct flights resumed 10 days ago.

The flights had been suspended in March just before the NATO air strikes against Yugoslavia which ended 11 weeks later when Belgrade handed control over Kosova to NATO and the United Nations.

Macedonia came under fire from Belgrade for providing a launch-pad for the KFOR force.

 

Kosova peackeepers arrest three Yugoslav soldiers

Reuters Tuesday, October 26 1999 12:18 PM EDT

Prishtina (Reuters) - Three Yugoslav soldiers were detained by KFOR peacekeepers after they were found on the boundary with Kosova, in an apparently accidental violation of the deal reached to end NATO's Balkan bombing campaign, KFOR said Tuesday.

``They just showed up at this border crossing point, in uniform, with weapons, but they were not hostile,'' Major Ole Irgens, a spokesman for the NATO-led force, said by telephone.

``We see this as a mistake,'' he added.

Irgens said as far as he knew it was the first time soldiers had been detained, although he said there were frequent incursions on both sides because the boundary was ill-defined.

The soldiers were arrested Monday evening at the crossing from Montenegro, Yugoslavia's smaller republic, near the Kosova village of Kociste. They were disarmed and taken to the nearby town of Pec by military police, Irgens said.

While they did not appear to have entered Kosova, they were well inside the 3 mile safety zone agreed by Yugoslav forces before they withdrew in June to end an 11 week NATO bombing campaign over the province.

Irgens said later the three men were released Tuesday afternoon.

A couple of extra patrols had been sent to the border crossing.

 

Gaddafi Given Yugoslavia's Top Medal By Milosevic

Reuters Tuesday, October 26 1999 06:22 AM EDT

TUNIS (Reuters) - Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi has received Yugoslavia's highest decoration from President Slobodan Milosevic in recognition of his efforts to boost bilateral relations, the official Libyan news agency JANA said Tuesday.

JANA, monitored in Tunis, said the ``Great Star'' medal had been brought to Libya by Yugoslav Deputy Prime Minister Zoran Lilic, a close associate of Milosevic.

Libya, the only Arab country to have condemned NATO air strikes against Yugoslavia during the Kosova crisis earlier this year, is an important supplier of oil to Yugoslavia.

Gaddafi kept close contact with Milosevic during the Yugoslav leader's crackdown on the mainly Muslim ethnic Albanians of Kosova that was halted by 11 weeks of NATO air strikes on the Balkan country.

 

Serbia, Iraq want united anti-U.S. front - Tanjug

04:59 p.m Oct 25, 1999 Eastern

BELGRADE, Oct 25 (Reuters) - Yugoslav and Iraqi officials on Monday called for the creation of a ``joint resistance front of freedom loving countries'' to the United States and its Western allies, the official Tanjug news agency said.

``That resistance front must be launched worldwide,'' said Serbian Information Minister Aleksandar Vucic in talks with a visiting delegation of the ruling Iraqi Baath party.

Both Iraq and Yugoslavia are under Western sanctions, Baghdad because of the 1990 invasion of Kuwait and Belgrade over its role in a series of Balkan wars this decade.

Vucic said the Iraqi delegation's visit would strengthen relations between Yugoslavia and Iraq and their ruling parties, led by Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic and Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

Vucic said he believed a stronger political basis would be created for ``resistance to the Americans and their West European lackeys,'' Tanjug said, adding:

``Pointing out that many countries in the world are against U.S. policy, Vucic said that the resistance front to the U.S. imperialist ideology will expand just as the anti-fascist front expanded during World War Two.''

The Iraqi delegation was headed by Harith Al-Khashali, Baath party committee chairman for international relations, Tanjug said.