Briefly noted

By Chris Stephen in The Hague (TU 325, 18 September 2003)

Briefly noted

By Chris Stephen in The Hague (TU 325, 18 September 2003)

Saturday, 30 April, 2005

Croatia this week began a Vukovar war crimes trial against 17 men - but the dock looked remarkably empty, as all the defendants remain on the run.

Their failure to turn up meant that Zagreb has decided to try the men in Absentia, a controversial move which opponents say makes it difficult to hold a fair trial.

All the suspects, 3 Croats and 14 Serbs, are charged with launching an artillery and infantry attack on the eastern village of Lovas on October 10, 1991 in which about thirty people died.

Suspect, Ljuban Devetak, is also accused of forcing a group of Croatians to walk into a minefield, killing 24.

The trial, in Vukovar, will see 50 witnesses testify.


Serbia and Montengro have been given two weeks to hand over transcripts from meetings between top defence officials during the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia.

The Hague tribunal wants the transcripts of meetings of the supreme defence council, chaired by Slobodan Milosevic.


Montenegro has asked Italy to confirm whether Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic is under investigation for cigarette smuggling.

Rumours that such a case is ongoing have swirled around Podgorica all summer, but the issue is now urgent because Hague prosecutors want him to testify against Milosevic.

And one thing Djukanovic would like to avoid is flying into Amsterdam to meet Hague prosecutors, only to be grabbed by border police on an Italian Interpol warrant.

Montenegro has dismissed the smuggling allegations as no more than an attempt to discredit the prime minister.

Chris Stephen is IWPR project manager in The Hague.

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