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Friday, 2 June, 2000, 19:57 GMT 20:57 UK
Nato escapes war crimes probe
Belgrade was hit by repeated strikes
Belgrade was hit by repeated strikes
The chief prosecutor of the United Nations war crimes tribunal, Carla del Ponte, says there is no basis for opening an investigation into the Nato bombing of Serbia during last year's Kosovo conflict.

She told the UN Security Council that, although she felt Nato had made mistakes during its 11-week campaign, she was satisfied there had been no deliberate targeting of civilians.

Nato was accused of committing war crimes by Yugoslavia and Russia. Incidents included the strike against a bridge as a passenger train was crossing it, the bombing of a refugee convoy, the targeting of the Serbian television building in Belgrade and the bombing of the Chinese embassy.

Nato carried out its air-strikes to stop President Slobodan Milosevic's forces killing and expelling members of the ethnic Albanian majority in Kosovo, who were demanding independence.

Damaging relations

Miss del Ponte told a meeting of the council that she had considered a number of complaints from lawyers acting on behalf of Yugoslavia and a Russian parliamentary commission.

Nato said it went to "extraordinary lengths" to ensure its troops complied with the laws of war.

Correspondents say Miss del Ponte's decision could further damage relations between the tribunal and Yugoslavia.

The government in Belgrade has accused UN prosecutors of bias and has refused to allow investigators to visit the country.

But Miss del Ponte said Belgrade was doing itself a disservice by hampering the work of the investigators.

"When allegations are made against the tribunal that it is anti-Serb and that there is an imbalance in the indictments issued, the fact that I am unable to gain access to the victims and evidence make such allegations rather hollow," she said.

Earlier Miss del Ponte told an Italian newspaper, La Repubblica, that the tribunal would now concentrate on pursuing senior Serbs responsible for war crimes following the break-up of the former Yugoslav Federation.

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Kosovo: One year on
Click here for in-depth coverage and latest news
Key stories:
Nato's incomplete victory
The view from Kosovo
Serbs fear new war
Nato strikes: The untold story
An Uneasy Peace
Talking Point
Is the West losing the peace?
Is Nato guilty of war crimes?
See also:

12 Mar 00 | Europe
Behind the Kosovo crisis
08 May 99 | Europe
Embassy strike 'a mistake'
08 May 00 | Asia-Pacific
China demands new embassy inquiry
18 Jun 99 | Asia-Pacific
China rejects US apology
09 Apr 00 | Asia-Pacific
CIA sacking over embassy attack
19 Apr 99 | Europe
Nato 'may have killed refugees'
14 Apr 99 | Europe
When war goes wrong
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