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Thursday, 5 April, 2001, 16:21 GMT 17:21 UK
Analysis: The Milosevic indictment
Former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic
The Hague tribunal is insisting that it be first to try Milosevic
South-east Europe analyst Gabriel Partos examines The Hague tribunal indictments against Milosevic and four of his close colleagues

The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in The Hague is ready too try former Yugoslave President Slobodan Milosevic and four of his closest associates on the basis of indictments it issued in 1999 for war crimes allegedly committed in Kosovo.

The tribunal is insisting that Yugoslavia has an obligation under international law to extradite Mr Milosevic to The Hague, regardless of legal proceedings against him at home.

Click here to see the full Hague indictment against Mr Milosevic.

Following Mr Milosevic's arrest by the Belgrade authorities, the tribunal's chief prosecutor, Carla del Ponte, said she had drawn up a second indictment for crimes allegedly committed in Bosnia.

Belgrade has been refused so far to extradite the former leader, partly on the grounds that such a move could provoke political unrest in the country.

However, a recent opinion poll suggests that the majority of Serbs (56% against 31%) would be willing to see their former leader tried in The Hague.

Crimes against humanity

Mr Milosevic and his colleagues are charged with crimes against humanity. According to the indictment, the five accused bear direct responsibility for crimes that are alleged to include the deportation of 740,000 Kosovar Albanians and the murders of at least 340 individually identified ethnic Albanians.

Srebrenica's women and children were allowed out while the town's men were massacred
Milosevic is not being held to account for the 1995 massacre in Srebrenica
Human rights organisations had long been calling for the indictment of President Milosevic on the grounds of his alleged responsibility for the wars of ethnic cleansing that have ravaged the Balkans from Croatia through Bosnia in the first half of the 1990s, and more recently Kosovo.

The official Hague indictment only takes in crimes allegedly carried out in Kosovo.

Lack of access

One problem in presenting a case against Mr Milosevic over the conflicts in Croatia and Bosnia was the fact that, as President of Serbia at the time, he had no formal legal responsibility for the activities of either the Yugoslav army or Serb paramilitaries in those two republics.

The second difficulty relates to lack of access to sensitive electronic evidence gathered by the intelligence agencies of the United States and Nato countries.

Hague tribunal chief prosecutor Carla del Ponte
Carla del Ponte has promised an indictment on crimes committed in Bosnia
It was long believed that the major powers did not want to see Mr Milosevic branded as a war crimes suspect for fear of endangering peace talks.

This was particularly the case around the time of the Dayton negotiations on Bosnia when Mr Milosevic was widely regarded as a man with whom the international community could do business.

Kosvo responsibility

The Kosovo indictments were far less problematic. Kosovo is part of Serbia and Yugoslavia and former President Milosevic, as commander-in-chief of the Yugoslav army, has direct responsibility for the behaviour of the Serbian security forces in the province.

The Nato countries had also lost patience with Mr Milosevic after his repeated attempts to renege on deals over Kosovo and began to treat him as an enemy.

Milosevic's wife Mirjana Markovic
Mirjana Markovic was also at the top of the Yugoslav pyramid of power
Western countries provided much of the evidence about alleged atrocities in Kosovo to The Hague tribunal.

The other individuals charged are the former Serbian President, Milan Milutinovic, former Yugoslav deputy Prime Minister Nikola Sainovic, the Yugoslav army's former chief-of-staff, General Dragoljub Ojdanic, and former Serbian Minister of the Interior Vlajko Stojiljkovic.

Top of the pyramid

All five Serb leaders are charged with direct personal responsibility for ordering, planning, executing or aiding and abetting mass deportations and murders.

And apart from Mr Sainovic, they are also charged with what's called command responsibility - in other words, of failing either to prevent alleged atrocities by subordinates or of not punishing them for their criminal conduct.

The four officials who have been charged along with Mr Milosevic were among the President's closest associates. They were important figures in the Serbian political and security hierarchy - high up in the pyramid that had Mr Milosevic and his wife, Mirjana Markovic, at its top.

Milan Milutinovic:
Former Serbian President Milan Milutinovic
Milan Milutinovic barely scraped through the presidential elections

Milan Milutinovic inherited the post of President of Serbia from Mr Milosevic in 1997.

On that occasion Mr Milutinovic had barely managed to scrape through the elections when, according to official figures, the turnout was just 0.9% above the required 50 % of the electorate.

Mr Milutinovic was earlier Yugoslavia's Foreign Minister and as such he accompanied President Milosevic at the Dayton peace talks on Bosnia. Before that he was Yugoslavia's ambassador in Athens - a posting that gave rise to widespread rumours that he was involved in administering the official and personal bank accounts of Serbian leaders in Greece and Cyprus.

Nikola Sainovic:
Former Yugoslav deputy Prime Minister Nikola Sainovic
Sainovic carried out a number of sensitive diplomatic errands for Milosevic

Former Yugoslav deputy Prime Minister Nikola Sainovic was one of the senior members of the Belgrade delegation at the Kosovo peace talks in France in February 1999.

He is an experienced political operator, who has done a number of sensitive errands for Mr Milosevic.

A former economics minister, he had maintained close links with the Bosnian Serb off-shoot of President Milosevic's Socialist Party.

He was also been in charge of co-ordinating policy on Kosovo. At the time of the killing of over 40 Kosovar Albanians in the village of Racak, US officials claimed to have intercepted a phone call in which Mr Sainovic allegedly ordered Serbian security forces to move in hard on the locals.

Vlajko Stojiljkovic:
Former Serbian Minister of the Interior Vlajko Stojiljkovic
Vlajko Stojiljkovic is a member of the "Pozarevac clan"

Former Serbian Minister of the Interior Vlajko Stojiljkovic used to be a manager in Pozarevac - the Milosevic couple's home town - and is described as a member of the "Pozarevac clan".

He was once head of Serbia's chamber of economy - a post in which he opposed economic reform. Mr Stojiljkovic later took control of the police following the gangland-type killing of his predecessor.

General Dragoljub Ojdanic:
General Dragoljub Ojdanic
General Ojdanic was in charge of the military during the Kosovo crisis

General Dragoljub Ojdanic, the Yugoslav army's chief-of-staff, is the newcomer in Mr Milosevic's inner circle.

He was appointed to his post in November after his predecessor had disagreed on different occasions with Mr Milosevic's plans to use the army in Kosovo, Montenegro and against the opposition in Serbia.

Although under Mr Milosevic the army has been forced to play second fiddle to the police, the military's importance greatly increased with the escalation of the Kosovo conflict and Nato's air strikes, bringing General Ojdanic centre stage.

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