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Monday, 15 April, 2002, 22:09 GMT 23:09 UK
Profile: Nikola Sainovic
Nikola Sainovic,
Nikola Sainovic: Faces crimes against humanity charges
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By Tamara Kovacevic
line

In May 1999, the UN War Crimes Tribunal in the Hague indicted Nikola Sainovic for war crimes committed in Kosovo in 1998 and 1999.

He gave himself up to the tribunal in May 2002.

He and his co-accused - Slobodan Milosevic, Milan Milutinovic, Dragoljub Ojdanic and now late Vlajko Stojiljkovic - are held responsible for a widespread and systematic campaign of terror and violence directed at Kosovo Albanians.

They are charged with several counts of crimes against humanity, including murder, deportation, forcible transfer and persecution on political, racial and religious grounds as well as one count of violations of the laws or customs of war.

Mr Sainovic was born on 7 December 1948 in the town of Bor in Serbia. He studied in Ljubljana, the capital of now independent Slovenia, where he gained a Masters degree in Chemical Engineering. He began his political career on his return to his home town, as a member of the Communist party.

Talks collapsed

After the collapse of the communist one-party system, Mr Sainovic became active in the Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS), the party of former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic.

Throughout the 1990s, Mr Sainovic held several positions in Mr Milosevic's governments. In February 1994 he was appointed deputy prime minister of Yugoslavia, a position he held until late 2000 when he stepped down.

In 1998, Mr Milosevic designated Mr Sainovic as his representative for Kosovo, where he took part in numerous meetings on the crisis and acted as liaison between the president and various Kosovo Albanian leaders.

He was an official member of the Serbian delegation at the Rambouillet peace talks in February 1999. The talks with the delegation of Kosovo Albanian leaders collapsed in mid-March despite intensive negotiations over several weeks.

Mr Sainovic exercised control over numerous individuals and institutions which were involved or responsible for offences against Kosovo Albanians. The UN war crimes tribunal holds him responsible for the acts of his subordinates.

Since Yugoslavia adopted the bill which permits extradition of Yugoslav citizens to the Hague, Belgrade-based independent radio station B-92 reported that Mr Sainovic's lawyers had contacted Serbian authorities several times to discuss their client's possible surrender.

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