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Wednesday, June 2, 1999 Published at 10:35 GMT 11:35 UK

World: Europe

Judges deliver Yugoslav decision

Belgrade says Nato's bombing amounts to genocide

The International Court of Justice in The Hague has rejected an attempt by Yugoslavia to bring an immediate end to Nato air strikes.

Kosovo: Special Report
Judges at the United Nations' highest court voted to reject Belgrade's request that Nato member countries should immediately end their involvement in the air campaign.

The judges gave the same response to identical petitions brought against 10 member nations of the alliance.

Yugoslavia filed individual complaints in April against Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, the US and the UK, saying Nato air strikes breach international agreements, including the UN charter and international conventions on genocide.

No jurisdiction

The international court made it clear it had no jurisdiction to deal with Yugoslavia's request for an end to the bombing.

The BBC's Joshua Rozenberg: "The judges said they were deeply concerned at the human suffering"
The BBC's Legal Affairs Correspondent, Joshua Rozenberg, says the judges' reasoning was that the dispute arose before 25 April this year and Yugoslavia had only accepted jurisdiction of the Court after that date.

As a result, the Court had no jurisdiction to deal with the dispute.

Genocide ruled out

The court also rejected Yugoslavia's contention that Nato was committing genocide with its air campaign, saying there was no evidence that Nato countries intended to destroy a national group.

It said there was no clear indication of an attempt "to bring about (Yugoslavia's) physical destruction in whole or in part," and that it had no jurisdiction to order an end to hostilities based on such a claim.

However the judges left this question open for further consideration.

Judges at the international court made it clear they were deeply concerned at the suffering in all parts of Kosovo and Yugoslavia. They said the case raised serious issues and called on all involved to observe their international obligations.

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