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Serbs put police on trial for Kosovo war crimes as Mladic controversy swirls

[JURIST] Eight former Serbian police officers went on trial Monday in Belgrade's special war crimes court charged [JURIST report] with the slaying of 48 ethnic Albanians in Kosovo in 1999. Their commander pleaded not guilty; the remaining defendants will enter their pleas Tuesday. All of the victims, who were killed in Suva Reka [HRW backgrounder], Kosovo, in March 1999, were from the same family, and included young children and a pregnant woman. The victims were ultimately transported to a mass grave [BBC report] in Batajnica, a western outskirt of Belgrade, where approximately 800 bodies of ethnic Albanians killed under the regime of Slobodan Milosevic's forces in the 1998-1999 Kosovo war have been exhumed. UPI has more.

Meanwhile, over the weekend, Serbia's deputy prime minister, finance minister, health minister and energy minister resigned [UPI report] from the government of Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica over Serbia’s ongoing inability to arrest fugitive Ratko Mladic [JURIST news archive] who is being sought by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia [official website] on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity. Top UN war crimes prosecutor Carla Del Ponte met Monday with Serbian authorities to discuss the issue. She believes that Mladic as well as former political leader Radovan Karadzic are being protected by sympathizers within Serbia. Prior to her visit, Del Ponte last week accused Serbian leaders of a lacking "political will" to arrest Mladic, and urged European Union members not to engage with Belgrade in accession talks, which have already been suspended since May, until Mladic’s capture. VOA has more.

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