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COURTSIDE: Kosovo & Omarska Camp Case

Indictees turn themselves into Hague to avoid humiliation of arrest and enforced transfer.
By Mirko Klarin

One week after General Dragoljub Ojdanic, the former Yugoslav army chief accused of responsibility for crimes in Kosovo, turned himself in, two more indictees surrendered voluntarily to The Hague.

The two, Nikola Sainovic, former Yugoslav deputy prime minister, and Momcilo Gruban, former head of a guard shift at the Omarska camp in north-west Bosnia, gave themselves up last week following the Yugoslav parliament's recent adoption of a law on cooperation with the tribunal.

They agreed to go to The Hague to avoid the humiliation of arrest and enforced transfer. More indictees are expected to turn up at The Hague in the coming days.

Sainovic was Milosevic's right-hand man in Kosovo in the period covered by the indictment for crimes committed against Albanian civilians (in the first half of 1999). A day after his surrender on May 3, he appeared before Judge O-gon Kwon.

Unlike Milosevic, Sainovic, in the presence of his lawyer Toma Fila, calmly entered a not guilty plea on all five counts of his indictment. The charges cover deportation, inhumane acts, murders and persecution on political, racial and religious grounds.

Milosevic will probably be most displeased with Sainovic performance. He is said to be furious with the former Bosnian Serb politician Momcilo Krajisnik for his "cowardly" pleading not guilty, instead of challenging the legality of the court, as he had done.

Since they are charged with the same indictment, Judge Kwon scheduled a joint status conference for Sainovic and Ojdanic on June 21. Their trial, however, must await the arrival of the last co-accused on the Kosovo indictment,the president of Serbia, Milan Milutinovic, who is still at large. His arrival is believed to hinge on Serbia's political calendar and is unlikely to precede presidential elections later this year.

Mirko Klarin is IWPR senior editor at the war crimes tribunal and editor-in-chief of SENSE News Agency.

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