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Monday, 3 February, 2003, 18:05 GMT
Bosnia wins war compensation battle
Re-building in Bosnia
Bosnia wants Yugoslavia to pay for war damage
Bosnia-Hercegovina has won a legal battle to seek compensation from Yugoslavia for genocide and economic damage inflicted on it during the 1992-95 war.

The court finds that Yugoslavia's application for revision is inadmissible

Judges' statement
The International Court of Justice in The Hague - also known as the World Court - turned down a request by Belgrade to review the case, in which Bosnia has accused Yugoslavia of violation of the United Nations Charter and the Genocide Convention.

The Yugoslav Federation argues it was neither a member of the UN nor a party to the convention at the time.

The BBC's Gabriel Partos says that - as a result of the ruling - Yugoslavia could become liable to pay enormous sums.

It fears that the case will set a precedent for another case launched more recently by Croatia.

But our correspondent says the ruling could also help Yugoslavia itself in its own case at the World Court against several Nato countries for their role in the 1999 bombing campaign.

'Irrelevant' defence

The case is complex, because Yugoslavia was a UN member before it began breaking up in the 1990s.

Slobodan Milosevic
Yugoslavia's challenge came after Milosevic's fall
Its lawyers had hoped to prove that, because Yugoslavia was officially re-admitted in its slimmed-down form in 2000, the war years cannot be seen as a period of membership or accountability.

Bosnia successfully argued that Yugoslavia's defence was irrelevant, and the court's panel of judges voted by 10 votes to three to reject the challenge.

Oral hearings in the genocide case are expected to begin in late 2003.

Bosnia is itself divided on the issue, with one of its two entities - the Bosnian Serb Republic - opposing the case and blocking the provision of state funding for the legal team.

But the Muslim-Croat Federation seems intent on carrying on, and with the court's ruling the case seems likely to continue for several years.

Reversal

Bosnia first brought the case during the war in March 1993, in the hope of securing a court order to end all hostilities and ultimately an exemption from the arms embargo imposed on all six former Yugoslav republics.

Dead body in Bosnia
Thousands were killed in the brutal war in Bosnia
Yugoslavia made a challenge two years later but this was thrown out in 1996.

The second challenge came in 2001 after the fall of President Slobodan Milosevic.

In the process, Yugoslavia's current leaders reversed Mr Milosevic's contention that the new Yugoslavia - consisting of just Serbia and Montenegro - was the sole legal successor to the old federation of six republics and enjoyed uninterrupted UN membership.

The court agreed to consider Yugoslavia's counter-arguments - despite a previous ruling that both countries were bound by the Genocide Convention during the conflict, since both were part of the former Yugoslavia which signed it in 1948.


At The Hague

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04 Nov 02 | Europe
15 Jul 02 | Europe
22 Oct 00 | Europe
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