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Milosevic & Others Warned Of Their Accountability

By Mirko Klarin

The Yugoslav authorities' contempt for the Tribunal reached a peak on Monday when the FRY Embassy refused to accept a letter from Chief Prosecutor Louise Arbour to Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic and 12 other top political and military officials.

Instead Arbour made the letter public two days later, and named the 12 cohorts - intended as a clear warning that the Tribunal was taking an interest in their activities.

The text of the letter follows in full:

Sir, As you will be aware, the failure of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to co-operate with my Office regarding the investigation of war crimes in Kosovo has been reported by the Tribunal's President to the Security Council of the United Nations. Not only have my investigators been denied access to Kosovo to conduct their own on-site investigations, the departure of the personnel of the OSCE Kosovo Verification Mission, has meant that the presence of independent observers has been severely curtailed.

In that context, and in the light of current reports of escalating violence in Kosovo, I am gravely concerned that serious violations of international humanitarian law continue to be committed. Lest you be in any doubt as to the relevant law, a copy of the salient portions of the text of Statute of the International Tribunal is attached for your information. The crimes over which the International Tribunal has jurisdiction are fully set out in Articles 2-5, and the responsibility of individuals, including persons in position of authority, is explained in Article 7.

It is my intention to investigate all serious violation of international humanitarian law that merit prosecution in the international forum, particularly those involving attacks on the civilian population. Meanwhile I believe that everything must be done to deter the commission of future crimes. I therefore look to you to exercise your authority over your subordinates; to exercise your leadership in order to prevent the commission of further crimes; and to take all necessary steps to punish any of your subordinates who commit serious violations of international humanitarian law in Kosovo.

Yours sincerely, Louise Arbour, Prosecutor. 26 March 1999.

The letter was sent to the following Yugoslav officials:

1. Slobodan Milosevic, President of the FRY 2. Mirko Marjanovic, Prime Minister of the Republic of Serbia 3. Milan Milutinovic, President of the Republic of Serbia 4. Nikola Sainovic, Deputy Premier of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia 5. Momir Bulatovic, Prime Minister of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia 6. Frenki Simatovic, Chief, Special Forces of State Security, Republic of Serbia 7. Dragoljub Ojdanic, Colonel General, Chief of Staff of the Yugoslav Army 8. Nebojsa Pavkovic, General, Commander of the Pristina Corps 9. Sreten Lukic, General, Head of Police Operations in Kosovo 10. Ljubinko Cvetic, Deputy Head of Security in Kosovo, Republic of Serbia 11. Radomir 'Rade' Markovic, Head of State Security, Assistant Interior Minister, Republic of Serbia 12. Zoran Sokolovic, Minister of the Interior of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia 13. Vlajko Stojilkovic, Minister of Interior, Republic of Serbia

President of the Tribunal, Gabrielle Kirk McDonald echoed Arbour's warnings in a March 31 statement in which she reminded President Milosevic and the Government of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia that just eight months ago, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda convicted the former Prime Minister of Rwanda of genocide. "In so doing," she said, "the court affirmed that governments have a responsibility to ensure that their citizens live in peace and security. The resulting trust and authority that governments enjoy applies equally, if not more so, to heads of State... The Tribunal will not forget."

Excluding Milan Milutinovic and Momir Bulatovic, widely seen as mere puppets of Milosevic, all the other officials named by Arbour' and McDonald, continually reappear in studies of the political, military and police "chains of command" linking Belgrade and the forces in Kosovo. The release of one such study by the British ministry of defence last week was backed up by yet another warning, this time from British Foreign Secretary, Robin Cook. "Anyone who carries out atrocities against the civilian population," Cook noted, "anyone who gives orders for them to carry it out, or is complicit in those orders being given, and anyone who fails to prevent such orders or to prevent those orders being carried out anyone in those categories is liable to face indictment before the international War Crimes Tribunal."

Robin Cook's "warning" had roughly the same effect as before it mentioned Arbour's "notice" and McDonald's "reminder". At the moment of writing, Kosovo has already been 'cleansed' of approximately half of its Albanian inhabitants, and judging by the pace of Serbian advance, by the time the next update is published, Kosovo could be devoid of its entire Albanian population.

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