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Thursday, April 8, 1999 Published at 21:30 GMT 22:30 UK

World: Europe

War crimes call grows

January 1999: Serbian units on the march near Pristina

Calls are growing for Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic to be investigated for war crimes.

Kosovo: Special Report
President Bill Clinton has added his weight to the argument for pressing war crime charges against the Yugoslav leader.

He said the issue should be looked at by a war crimes tribunal.

"It's a legal decision but one that I think should be looked into," Mr Clinton said.

"What we know is that by a deliberate policy, he has caused hundreds of thousands of people to be refugees. We know that thousands of innocent people have been killed.

"The human suffering and loss here is staggering and a repeat of what we saw in Bosnia."

David Shukman reports: "He is deeply moved and holds one man responsible"
In a BBC interview, Nato Secretary-General Javier Solana said his personal opinion was that Mr Milosevic should be indicted for war crimes.

UK Prime Minister Tony Blair says Mr Milosevic should be under no illusions that he would be held responsible for crimes he had committed.

And the Saudi news agency, SPA, reported that The General Secretariat of the World Islamic League has also called for President Milosevic to be tried in an international war crimes court.

'World is watching'

The US State Department said it had identified military commanders it believed to be responsible for war crimes based on evidence from intelligence sources and reports from ethnic Albanians escaping Kosovo.

[ image: US intelligence sources have been gathering information on atrocities]
US intelligence sources have been gathering information on atrocities
Spokesman James Rubin said he was naming the officers "as a warning to them that the world is watching" but added that it would be up to an international war crimes tribunal to indict them.

"We're not saying that these individuals are, to our knowledge, directly responsible for war crimes," said Mr Rubin.

"We believe that the police forces and the military forces are conducting war crimes and crimes against humanity, that these are the names - to the best of our knowledge - of the commanders of those units."

Mr Rubin identified the following commanders:

  • Col. Milos Mandic, 252nd Armoured Brigade, central Kosovo
  • Maj. Gen. Vladimir Lazarevic, Pristina Corps
  • Col. Mladen Cirkovic, 15th Armoured Brigade, Pristina
  • Col. Dragan Zivanovic, 125th Motorised Brigade, Kosovska Mitrovica and Pec
  • Col. Krsman Jelic, 243rd Mechanised Brigade, Ursoevac
  • Col. Bozidar Delic, 549th Motorised Brigade, Prizren and Djakovica
  • Col. Radojko Stefanovic, 52nd Mixed Artillery Brigade, Gnjilane
  • Col. Milos Djosan, 52nd Light Air Defence Artillery-rocket Regiment, Djakovica
  • Maj. Zeljko Pekovic, 52nd Military Police Battalion, Pristina

Monitoring events

Mr Rubin said any responsibility by President Milosevic would be "a matter for the tribunal, pursuing its evidence wherever it leads."

"We're continuing to monitor events in Kosovo, including changes in command of the Yugoslav military... and will provide this and further information, including additional names, as we can to the prosecutor of the tribunal," he added.

Balkan affairs analyst Dr Kate Hudson told BBC News 24: "If Nato wants to retain the option of negotiating a peace settlement they will have to negotiate with Milosevic and if he is an indicted war criminal it would not be such an easy step to take."

Plea for help

The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) has asked for more help for its investigations in Kosovo.

Deputy prosecutor Graham Blewitt, said: "We are being tantalised with evidence (from Nato and the allied forces) and then having to go search for it.... We certainly haven't received what we expected."

Mr Blewitt indicated that the ICTY's own investigation teams would be reinforced with other investigators towards the end of the week.

On 26 March ICTY Chief Prosecutor Louise Arbour said she was "gravely concerned" about the situation in Kosovo, where "serious violations of humanitarian law continue to be committed".

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