(New York) - As former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic prepared for a second appearance before the Hague tribunal, Human Rights Watch expressed its disagreement with several contentions in the motion that Milosevic filed with the court in August.
Mr. Milosevic had charged that the tribunal was illegitimate and selective. A hearing before the war crimes court will take place on Thursday, August 30 to chart the course for Milosevic's trial.
"This is not victors' justice-this is justice for the victims of horrific crimes," said Richard Dicker, director of International Justice for Human Rights Watch. "Slobodan Milosevic was at the top of the chain of command of military and security forces that wrought mayhem in Kosovo in early 1999. He needs to be held to account, with all the protections of a fair trial, for the ethnic cleansing and killings there."
Human Rights Watch documented scores of killings by Serb forces during the 1998-1999 conflict that took an estimated 10,000 Kosovar Albanian lives. The most egregious abuses took place during the NATO bombing period from March to June 1999 when Serbian and Yugoslav forces conducted a brutal ethnic cleansing campaign in which thousands of ethnic Albanians were killed. Throughout Kosovo villages were systematically cleansed, with long columns of displaced persons leading along roads, into cities and then out of the country.
In his motion of August 9, Mr. Milosevic claimed that the tribunal had no authority over him because "his extradition violated" the constitutions of Yugoslavia and Serbia.
"The transfer of Milosevic from a Belgrade jail to the Hague was a clear obligation under the United Nations Charter and the 1995 Dayton Peace Accords that ended the war in Bosnia. Slobodan Milosevic signed the Dayton accord on behalf of Yugoslavia. The authorities in Belgrade had a clear obligation under international law to turn him over to face justice," said Dicker.