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Ojdanic Granted Temporary Release

Defendant allowed to return to Belgrade on compassionate grounds.
By Daniel Barron
Hague tribunal judges have granted former Yugoslav army chief Dragoljub Ojdanic’s application for temporary provisional release, but denied similar motions filed by two of Ojdanic’s co-accused, Sreten Lukic and Milan Milutinovic.

On June 22, Ojdanic requested provisional release on compassionate grounds, so that he could travel to Serbia to visit his ill sister, who is paralysed and bed-ridden, and to take part in his daughter’s wedding preparations.

During his leave, which will last from July 12 to18, Ojdanic will be monitored twenty-four hours a day by Serbian authorities, and will not be allowed to have any contact with his co-accused, or to discuss his case with the media.

Milutinovic’s June 20 application for release to travel to Belgrade to consult with his cardiologist was denied, because the judges said he had not shown that he was receiving inadequate health care at the Hague prison.

In Lukic’s motion, filed a week later, he requested leave to return to Belgrade to visit his elderly father, whose health is deteriorating. The trial chamber denied his application because, it said, Lukic had failed to demonstrate how a visit to Belgrade would allow Lukic to see his father, who lives in Bosnia and is unable to travel.

Milutinovic, Ojdanic, and Lukic, who were, respectively, president of Serbia, army chief of staff and defence minister of Yugoslavia, and chief of the Serbian Public Security Service, are charged with crimes against humanity and war crimes, including, deportation, forcible transfer, murder and persecutions.

The charges stem from acts committed by Yugoslav and Serbian forces against Albanian civilians in Kosovo from January to June 1999.

The trial of three men, along with three other co-accused, began on July 10, 2006.

Daniel Barron is an IWPR reporter in London.

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