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Nikola Obuljen, former mayor of Dubrovnik
"I feel satisfied as we have been waiting for this indictment for a long time"
 real 28k

Friday, 2 March, 2001, 00:35 GMT
Charges over Dubrovnik bombing
The historic centre of Dubrovnik
Dubrovnik was under fire for three months in 1991
By Balkans correspondent Paul Wood

The International War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague has issued indictments against Serb and Montenegrin soldiers over the attacks on the beautiful Croatian port city of Dubrovnik.


[The charges include] murder, cruel treatment, attacks on civilians, devastation not justified by military necessity... destruction of historic monuments and plunder of private property

The Hague Tribunal
Those indicted face 16 different kinds of war crimes in connection with the artillery attacks on the ancient city and its surroundings.

Their identities have not been revealed by the tribunal, but they were members of the then Yugoslav Federal Army and Navy, the Bosnian Serb Army and Montenegrin paramilitary units.

The punishing three-month bombardment of Dubrovnik in 1991 was one of the events which turned international opinion against the Serbs.

'Pearl of the Adriatic'

The ancient walled city, known as the Pearl of the Adriatic is a United Nations World Heritage Site and seemed to have little military value.

The historic centre of Dubrovnik
The shelling of Dubrovnik was "wanton destruction"
At the time even Britain's Prince Charles called for the shelling to stop.

Issuing the indictments The Hague Tribunal called the artillery attacks one of the biggest acts of wanton destruction committed during the break-up of the old Yugoslavia.

The charges include murdering civilians, causing devastation far beyond that justified by military necessity, cruel treatment of non-combatants and looting.

It was the big guns of the Yugoslav Federal Army and Navy, commanded from Belgrade which caused most of the damage.

Looting

Visitors to Dubrovnik are now greeted by a large map on the city's outer wall, pinpointing each one of the hundreds of impacts from artillery or mortar shells.

An assortment of irregular Serb and Montenegrin forces were also involved in the assault.

For months after the siege new video recorders were selling for as little as 100 Deutschmarks (less than $50) each in Montenegro as the paramilitaries got rid of their plunder.

The siege of Dubrovnik helped turn Montenegro against the war being directed from Belgrade.

But go to the city today and you will find little mood of forgiveness for the Montenegrins, still less for the Serbs.

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