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The BBC's Martha Dixon
reports on the sentencing of Rade Markovic
 real 56k

Friday, 6 July, 2001, 20:02 GMT 21:02 UK
Serbia reveals more mass graves
Scene of a mass grave
Mihajlovic said the crimes were committed by individuals
Serbian authorities investigating mass graves of ethnic Albanians have revealed that as many as 800 ethnic Albanians could be buried around Belgrade alone.


We want to identify the victims, return them to their families so that they can be buried in a dignified way

Serbian Interior Minister
Dusan Mihajlovic
The Serbian Interior Minister, Dusan Mihajlovic, vowed no one guilty of war crimes would escape responsibility.

The revelation follows the discovery of two mass graves at Petrovo Selo in the east of the country in June.

Mr Mihajlovic, a leading member of the reformist alliance, said police would find out who had ordered the "monstrous operation" to transport bodies to mass graves across Serbia.

"No one in Serbia will sleep in peace and have a clear conscience until the truth is found and justice done," he said.

Sentences

"The most important thing is that no one will escape from responsibility," he added.

Mr Mihajlovic rejected the possibility that the Serbian police and Yugoslav Army as institutions were behind the killings, as Western governments and human rights bodies have alleged.

Rade Markovic
Markovic was a close ally of Slobodan Milosevic
"Individuals have committed those crimes. Often in police or military uniforms, but on their own initiative," he said.

And he said that casualties of fighting and Nato air strikes may have been among the dead as well as war crimes victims.

Meanwhile, a court in Belgrade sentenced the former head of the Serbian secret police under Slobodan Milosevic, Rade Markovic, to one year in jail for revealing state secrets.

Three of Markovic's allies were also found guilty of allowing unauthorised people to see confidential papers and computer data and sentenced to jail terms ranging from 12 to 16 months.

Correspondents say they are the first of Mr Milosevic's associates to be convicted since he was overthrown in October 2000.

They were said to have committed the crime while destroying files in the aftermath of the uprising.

Assassination

Markovic was arrested in February on suspicion of organising a car crash which nearly killed the then opposition leader, Vuk Draskovic in 1999.


We will all lodge an appeal because it was not said what kind of secret was leaked

Defence lawyer
He is set to be tried later on separate charges relating to this incident, in which four of Mr Draskovic's associates died.

Although the sentences were more lenient than had been expected, the defence teams say they will challenge the ruling.

"We will all lodge an appeal because it was not said what kind of secret was leaked nor to whom it was revealed and how," said Zora Dobricanin-Nikodinovic, a lawyer for one of Markovic's convicted allies, Milan Radonjic.

Dusan Masic, another defence lawyer, claimed the trial was politically motivated, saying Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic and Justice Minister Vladan Batic had already made up their minds.

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See also:

29 Jun 01 | Europe
New mass grave finds in Serbia
14 Jun 01 | Europe
Belgrade mass grave site revealed
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