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Kosovo Six Stay Put Over Holidays

Court not satisfied they would return if provisionally released.
By Katherine Boyle
Former Serbian president Milan Milutinovic and his five co-accused will spend the winter holidays in a UN detention unit this year.

The trial chamber this week denied motions by Milutinovic and five other Serbian military and police officials asking for provisional release during the court’s winter recess from December 16 to January 15.

Although the men were provisionally released in July and August of this year, and returned to the tribunal, the prosecution argued strongly against the latest motions because of the “substantial quantum of evidence” against them.

Milutinovic, former deputy Yugoslav prime minister Nikola Sainovic, former Yugoslav army chief of staff Dragoljub Ojdanic and police and army officers Vladimir Lazarevic, Sreten Lukic and Nebojsa Pavkovic are accused of being responsible for the killing and forced removal of thousands of ethnic Albanians in Kosovo in 1999.

In the past 17 weeks, the court has heard 85 witnesses testify about these crimes.

The trial chamber ruled that, given the testimony heard and potential penalties for the men if they are convicted, it was not satisfied the accused would return to The Hague for the remainder of the trial.

The trial, which began in July 2006, is expected to resume on January 16.

Katherine Boyle is an IWPR reporter in The Hague.

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