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ICTY begins Kosovo war crimes trial for former Serbian leaders

[JURIST] The trial of six men accused of war crimes in Kosovo in 1999, including former Serbian President Milan Milutinovic [BBC profile], began at the International Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) Monday. Milutinovic and his five co-defendants - former Serbian Prime Minister Nikola Sainovic [BBC profile], former Yugoslav army chiefs of staff Dragoljub Ojdanic [BBC profile] and Nebojsa Pavkovic, and generals Vladimir Lazarevic and Sreten Lukic - face charges [indictment, PDF; case backgrounder] of war crimes and crimes against humanity, including the deportation of 800,000 Kosovo Albanian civilians and the forcible transfer, murder and persecution of Kosovo Albanians at the hands of Serb troops. All six have pleaded not guilty.

Milutinovic took over as president in 1997 after Slobodan Milosevic [JURIST news archive] ended his presidency, but Milutinovic reportedly continued to stay in close contact with Milosevic and carry out Milosevic's policies. The prosecution will use much of the same evidence that was presented in the Milosevic trial, which ended earlier this year when Milosevic passed away in prison [JURIST report]. The ICTY granted a provisional release [JURIST report] to Milutinovic, Sainovic, Ojdanic and Lazarevic in 2005 until their trial because they were not considered dangerous or a flight risk. Reuters has more. AFP has additional coverage.

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