Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Giving Voice, Driving Change

Briefly Noted

Compiled by IWPR staff in The Hague (TU No 403, 22-Apr-05)
By IWPR

A Serbian government statement, released on April 22, said the former chief of staff of the Yugoslav army will fly to Rotterdam on April 25 for a medical check-up before handing himself over to the UN court.


Pavkovic was indicted in October 2003 along with three other army and police generals - Vladimir Lazarevic, Sreten Lukic and Vlastimir Djordjevic – who are all charged in connection with events in Kosovo.


They each face four counts of crimes against humanity and one count of violations of the laws or customs of war.


Pavkovic has given regular media interviews in recent weeks but the Belgrade authorities have appeared reluctant to order his arrest, apparently preferring to stick with a policy of talking suspects into giving themselves up.


According to the Serbian government statement, Pavkovic said he was handing himself in because he "does not want to be the only obstacle to [his] country's efforts towards a better future".


His arrival in the Netherlands will coincide with a meeting of European Union, EU, foreign ministers, where they will discuss the possibility of signing a Stabilisation and Association Agreement with Serbia - a potential first step towards EU membership.


Diplomats have made it clear that Serbian membership would depend on whether Pavkovic had surrendered to the tribunal.


Of Pavkovic's co-indictees, Lazarevic has pleaded not guilty to all charges and has been granted provisional release pending trial; Lukic arrived in The Hague earlier this month and has put off entering a plea, and Djordjevic is thought to be hiding in Russia.


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Former Kosovo prime minister Ramush Haradinaj has returned to The Hague after being granted provisional release to attend the funeral of his younger brother, Enver.


Enver Haradinaj was killed on April 15 when unidentified gunmen opened fire on his car in western Kosovo. There has been speculation in the local press that the murder was linked to a longstanding dispute with another family.


His April 17 burial service was attended by thousands of people, including current premier Bajram Kosumi and other government ministers.


Also present at the ceremony was Daut Haradinaj, a third brother who is currently serving a prison sentence for crimes committed during his time in the Kosovo Liberation Army, KLA.


Ramush Haradinaj pleaded not guilty before Hague tribunal judges in March to 37 counts of war crimes relating to his alleged role in a 1998 KLA campaign to abduct, torture and murder dozens of Albanians, Roma and Serbs.


During his brief trip to Kosovo, Ramush Haradinaj was banned from speaking with the media or with any potential witnesses in his case.


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The tribunal has withdrawn one of the first indictments ever issued by prosecutors more than a decade ago.


In a statement issued on April 22, tribunal sources said indictee Goran Borovnica - who went missing in March 1995, a month after charges were filed against him - is presumed dead.


Borovnica was charged with the murders of four Bosnian Muslims and Croats from Kozarac in north-western Bosnia, following the takeover of the town by Serb forces in 1992.


He was indicted along with Dusko Tadic, who received a 20-year prison sentence in 1997 for crimes committed at the notorious Omarska detention camp, as well as in Kozarac and the surrounding area.


The tribunal statement underlined that should any information come to light showing that Borovnica is still alive, he could still be "pursued by the relevant prosecutorial authorities".


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At his first appearance before tribunal judges on April 18, former Bosnian Serb army officer Vujadin Popovic pleaded not guilty to charges relating to the murders of more than 7,000 Bosnian Muslims in Srebrenica in 1995.


Popovic faces one count of genocide or, alternatively, complicity to commit genocide; four counts of crimes against humanity; and one count of violations of the laws or customs of war for his alleged role in the massacre.


Prosecutors allege that, as assistant commander for security of the Drina corps, Popovic was responsible for dealing with prisoners from the town after it was overrun by Serb forces on July 11, 1995.


The accused was transferred to The Hague on April 14 following talks with Serbian interior minister Dragan Jocic.


Prosecutors have indicated that they will seek to put him on trial together with a number of other Srebrenica indictees who have surrendered to the court in recent weeks.


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Former Bosnian Serb army officer Drago Nikolic has pleaded not guilty to charges relating to his alleged role in the 1995 Srebrenica massacre.


At the April 20 hearing, Nikolic denied charges of genocide, extermination, persecution and murder.


The indictment claims that, as chief of security of the Zvornik brigade at the time, Nikolic was responsible for the unit's military police, whose members allegedly blindfolded prisoners and transported them to the execution sites.


They say Nikolic visited the execution sites himself and was under no illusion about what was happening.


Nikolic was transferred to The Hague on March 17 following talks with Serbian justice minister Zoran Stojkovic.


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Former Macedonian police officer Johan Tarculovski has pleaded not guilty to charges relating to an attack on an ethnic Albanian village in 2001 in which seven residents were allegedly murdered and many more detained and beaten.


The April 18 hearing was Tarculovski's second time before tribunal judges, after he postponed entering a plea during his initial appearance on March 21.


Prosecutors say Tarculovski – who faces three counts of violations of the laws or customs of war – was in charge of the police unit that carried out the assault on Ljuboten, just one day before the signing of the Ohrid peace accords that brought an end to Macedonia's brief civil war.


Former Macedonian interior minister Ljube Boskoski, who was responsible for the country's police force at the time and is said to have known about the attack in advance, pleaded not guilty to the same charges earlier this month.


The case against the two men is the only one to be brought by tribunal prosecutors for crimes committed during the fighting between Macedonian security forces and ethnic Albanian rebels.