From email@example.com Mon Jul 2 12:42:46 2001
Date: Sun, 1 Jul 2001 22:58:11 -0500 (CDT)
Subject: [balkanhr] BETA DAILY NEWS ON MILOSEVIC EXTRADITION
Serbian Government Delivers Milosevic to The Hague—Yugoslav President Kostunica Calls Extradition Illegal—Socialists, Radicals Pledge Street Protests—Montenegrin Socialist People's Party Announces Yugoslav Government Collapse—Former Croatian Serb Leaders Also Transferred to The Hague—Donors Conference For Yugoslavia Today—President Bush Demands End of Violence From Macedonia's Albanians
The Serbian government extradited the former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic to the international war crimes tribunal in The Hague on June 28 despite a federal constitutional court ban. On the same date, June 28, 12 years ago, Milosevic gave a firey nationalistic speech in front of a million-strong crowd in Gazimestan near Pristina, promising a renaissance of the Serbian state and society.
Milosevic was transferred to the tribunal largely as a result of Serbian Premier Zoran Djindjic's strong initiatives. A Serbian government decree on cooperation with the tribunal, citing the court's statute, formally made extradition possible. Only Obren Joksimovic, from the Serbian Democratic Party, voted against Milosevic's extradition at the government session that sent Milosevic to The Hague. The Serbian Democratic Party is led by Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica.
Djindjic and his government, government sources said, chose to act independently after they realized that Kostunica was seriously doubting the entire thing and that he was not prepared to go all the way. Djindjic said Milosevic's prompt extradition was necessary for Serbia's future.
The constitutional court, consisting of judges appointed under Milosevic, met after Kostunica signaled at the beginning of the week, after meeting with Socialist Party of Serbia officials, to whom he promised that there would be no extradition without the constitutional court's consent, that he did not fully support the extradition of Milosevic and other indictees.
The extradition is a slap in the face for Kostunica, a direct challenge. Kostunica is Djindjic's chief rival in the Democratic Opposition of Serbia. The constitutional court's decision to put the government's cooperation decree on ice, began the creation of a rift in the DOS. The Socialist People's Party, the DOS's coalition partner in the federal government has said it will split with the DOS. Serbia and Yugoslavia have definitively entered a political crisis, which will imminently lead to early elections. In his attempts to transfer Milosevic and other war crimes suspects to The Hague, Djindjic is supported by the rest of the DOS with the exception of, naturally, Kostunica's Democratic Party of Serbia. That means that Kostunica and the Democratic Party of Serbia will be on one side and the rest of the DOS on the other in the elections.
Former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic was handed over on June 28 to the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, after the Serbian government decided to apply the tribunal's statute.
Milosevic was intiatially transferred to the airport in Tuzla between 8:00-8:30 p.m., from where he was flown to Sheveningen and arrived at 11 p.m. At first he will have a medical examination and will be kept in me quarters.
The Serbian government decided to extradite Milosevic after the Yugoslav constitutional court temporarily suspended on June 28 the government's decree on cooperation with the ICTY until it could establish its constitutionality.
The court said “the application of the decree before its constitutionality is established will cause irreparable harm.”
All four of the court's judges voted for the decision. These judges were elected during former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic's regime.
The ICTY indicted Milosevic on May 24, 1999 for war crimes and crimes against humanity in Kosovo.
Serbian Premier Zoran Djindjic told journalists that the government decided at an extraordinary session on June 28 to fulfill its obligations towards the ICTY and that the decision to extradite Milosevic had immediatly taken effect and was posted in the Serbian official gazette.
Djindjic said the Serbian government found the constitutional court's decision “invalid” and that “the constitutional court, given its makeup, has no right to decide on the constitutionality of the federal government's decisions,” referring to the fact that the court's judges had been appointed under Milosevic.
“Weighing the damage that our country faces against other options, we opted to apply article 135 of the Serbian constitution which says that the Serbian authorities can take over federal prerogatives in cases in which federal institutions are not functioning in the interest of the republic,” Djindjic said.
He said 21 of 23 members of government supported the June 28 decision.
Djindjic said 15 members (deputy premiers and ministers) attended the June 28 government session and that all of them supported it except for Health Minister Obren Joksimovic (a member of the Democratic Party of Serbia).
Djindjic said DOS's federal ministers had sent letters of support.
He said another reason for the decision was the up-coming donors' conference for Yugoslavia, but that the chief reason was the threat of international isolation.
Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica said on June 28 that the surrender of former president Slobodan Milosevic to the Hague tribunal, “like the previous extradition of the mayor of Prijedor Milomir Stakic, cannot be considered legal or constitutional.”
“From the arsenal of Milosevic's policies, which were devastating for the country and the people, the most undemocratic elements have been taken and revived: lawlessness and the making of hasty and humiliating moves that nobody in the international community demanded, at least not firmly,” said a statement from President Kostunica.
He maintained that in the extradition of Milosevic, the Serbian authorities “had not respected even the most basic procedures, as if somebody in Yugoslavia, not somebody from abroad, was in a rush to meet an obligation taken God knows when from God knows who.”
Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica was not informed about the transfer of former president Slobodan Milosevic to The Hague on June 28, a source in Kostunica's cabinet told BETA.
The arrest of Slobodan Milosevic last April 1 by the Serbian authorities also apparently took place without the knowledge of the Yugoslav president.
However, Serbian agricultre minister Dragan Veselinov said Kostunica had been informed of the Serbian government's decision, because one of the ministers who attended the government session was from Kostunica's party, the Democratic Party of Serbia.
“The Serbian government does not have to inform anyone of its decisions. Obren Joksimovic, from the Democratic Party of Serbia, was at the session. Therefore, Kostunica knew about the decision,” Veselinov told BETA.
The Socialist People's Party of Montenegro announced on June 28 the break up of coalition ties with DOS because of the Serbian government's decision to surrender Slobodan Milosevic to the Hague tribunal.
“The Serbian government has, with its decision, attempted to topple the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Bearing in mind the consequences of such a decision, the Socialist People's Party will reconsider their coalition with DOS. The Socialist People's Party is concerned about the future of the federation, and believes that the Serbian government's decision represents the end of the federation,” executive member Dragan Koprivica told BETA.
He called on all factions in DOS “that are supposed to be led by Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica to fight for a democratic Serbia, and for the survival of a democratic Federal Republic of Yugoslavia as the democratic union between Serbia and Montenegro.”
The Socialist and Radical parties held a rally in central Belgrade on June 28, to protest the extradition to the Hague tribunal of Slobodan Milosevic.
Speaking before a crowd of about 3,000, Socialist Vice-President Ivica Dacic and Radical leader Vojislav Seselj called another protest rally for June 29 outside the Yugoslav Parliament building.
Socialist officials said earlier that the Milosevic extradition was in violation of the Yugoslav constitution, and that it meant the start of the Yugoslav government's break up, and eventually the country's break up.
Radical leader Seselj said on the Milosevic extradition that all involved in the “coup d’ etat should be arrested immediately,” and that the Yugoslav Parliament should appoint at its next session a “national unity government.”
Another Socialist vice-president, Zivadin Jovanovic, accused Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica and Serbian Premier Zoran Djindjic of “bearing the responsibility” for extraditing Milosevic to The Hague.
The former Yugoslav president's supporters chanted in reply, “Uprising!, Uprising!,” and “Betrayal! Betrayal!”
The Socialist official called on the Serb Unity Party and Serbian Renewal Movement leaders to join the protests drawing shouts of approval from the crowd.
There were no police at the central Republic Square but several police vehicles were parked about 50 meters away.
The ousted Yugoslav president's supporters were very aggressive toward Belgrade media reporters. They physically assaulted a BETA reporter and a Fonet agency photo-reporter. The rally ended however without any major incidents.
Former Yugoslav ambassador to Moscow Borislav Milosevic called the extradition of his brother Slobodan Milosevic, “pure hijacking, an act of violence in breach of all legal norms including the Yugoslav Constitutional Court's ruling.”
ATTORNEYS: Veselin Cerovic, a member of Milosevic's defense team, said on June 28 that his client's extradition “is a constitutional diversion.”
Cerovic told BETA “I am completely flabbergasted” by the Serbian government's decision to directly apply the tribunal's statute. He added that Milosevic's attorneys' “should have at least” been notified of the extradition process.
SERBIAN PREMIER: Serbian Premier Zoran Djindjic said that the Serbian government was forced to extradite Milosevic to protect Serbia's interests.
“Cutting off cooperation with the tribunal or postponing it would have had unforeseeable consequences for our country's future,” Djindjic said in televised address to the nation.
He asked citizens to have understanding for what he called, “a difficult decision, but the only right one.”
“We believed that the adoption of a bill in parliament to regulate cooperation with the tribunal was the best solution. Due to difficulties with out coalition partners in the federal government we failed to reach agreement on the bill. Obviously, our federal institutions have not been fully reformed, they are not completely capable of understanding and supporting the interests of both republics in the federation in times of crisis,” Djindjic said.
YUGOSLAV DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER: Miroljub Labus, the Yugoslav deputy prime minister, said late on June 28 that Milosevic's extradition to the international war crimes tribunal “will be a big plus” at the donors' conference for Yugoslavia.
“The people in Brussels had already begun thinking that we do the opposite of what we say. Our country's international position will become stronger,” Labus told Serbian state TV.
He said Milosevic was a part of Yugoslavia's past, which was why everyone should calmly accept his extradition.
“We must secure conditions for people to work in peace and make money, so that the future can be worthy of our children,” Labus said.
SOCIAL DEMOCRATIC UNION: Party leader and Deputy Premier Zarko Korac said the decision of the republic authorities “is very responsible” and that “it has realized a vital interest of the Serb people and citizens of Serbia—cooperation with the international community to establish individual responsibility for war crimes.”
“At this moment we must preserve peace and order in our republic and we appeal to all political parties in the Democratic Opposition of Serbia to preserve the unity of our coalition for the sake of Serbia,” a statement said.
SERBIAN RADICAL PARTY: The Serbian Radical Party said Milosevic's handover is “one of the gravest criminal acts in Serbian history.”
“The act was one of pirates and bandits, which is how the DOS, led by supreme bandit Vojislav Kostunica, does things, in its attempts to destroy Serbian national dignity, pride, honor and the Serbian state,” a statement said.
The party invited citizens to participate in a protest in front of Yugoslav parliament at 6:00 p.m. on June 29.
SERBIAN PARTY OF UNITY: Party leader Borislav Pelevic condemned the Serbian government's decision to extradite Milosevic.
“It was only to be expected that the shameful DOS government would adopt such a shameful act, extraditing Milosevic to the international war crimes court. It did not come as a surprise, I knew Milosevic's extradition was a matter of hours,” Pelevic said.
He said the Serbian government would not last if it went on extraditing Yugoslav citizens, soldiers and police.
DEMOCRATIC PARTY OF SOCIALISTS OF MONTENEGRO: Igor Luksic, a spokesman for the ruling Montenegrin Democratic Party of Socialists, said that June 28 symbolically rounded off Milosevic's “political odyssey” which began on the same date a decade ago.
“On Saint Vid's day, June 28, 1989, Milosevic got out of a helicopter in Gazimestan, beginng his unfortunate rule. Today, he is on his way to the Hague, bringing his political odyssey to an end,” Luksic told journalists in the Montenegrin legislature.
He said the June 28 events showed Yugoslavia no longer existed, because its institutions “have been worn out.”
SOCIAL DEMOCRATIC PARTY OF MONTENEGRO: Dragisa Burzan, a senior party official, said Milosevic's extradition “is a condemnation of criminal policies.”
He told journalists in the Montenegrin legislature that Milosevic's extradition to the international war crimes tribunal “simulatenously offers hope to the citizens of Serbia that they will finally acquire an image in the world.”
Burzan said that Montenegro could now begin a peaceful process to attain independence.
BiH—Former president of the rotating Bosnia and Herzegovina Presidency Alija Izetbegovic described the delivery of Slobodan Milosevic to the war crimes tribunal in The Hague as “the lifting of collective responsibility from the Serb people.”
“Milosevic's transfer means a gradual, but also a long-term clearing of the situation in the Balkans,” Izetbegovic told TV BiH.
CARLA DEL PONTE WELCOMES MILOSEVIC EXTRADITION. The Hague tribunal chief prosecutor Carla del Ponte welcomed on June 28 the Serbian government's decision to surrender Slobodan Milosevic, calling it an important milestone for international criminal justice.
In a written statement, the court's chief prosecutor stressed that the transfer of Milosevic to The Hague was not the end but the beginning of a procedure in which a lot more has to be done to reach a just end.
Carla del Ponte praised the contribution of U.N. member countries that supported, and assisted the June 28 transfer of Slobodan Milosevic.
UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: U.S. President George W. Bush hailed the Serbian government's handover of former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic to The Hague tribunal, and pledged continued U.S. support for Yugoslav reforms.
In a White House statement, Bush described the Milosevic extradition as a message that all those who have brought tragedy and violence to the Balkans will face justice.
President Bush said the U.S. was ready to help Yugoslavia on the road of economic and democratic reforms.
EUROPEAN UNION: E.U. spokesman Gunar Vigand told BETA that the delivery of Milosevic to The Hague honored international laws and justice.
The E.U. spokesman said, “it was the right move,” which will have a positive effect on the outcome of the donors' conference for the economic and democratic reconstruction of Yugoslavia.
GERMANY: Chancellor Gerhardt Schroeder welcomed the Serbian government's decision to surrender Slobodan Milosevic.
“It is a great success in international efforts to reach justice. With this step, which definitely was not easy, Yugoslavia met its legal obligations on tribunal cooperation. The international community should act quickly, and strongly endorse the process of Yugoslavia's economic and social recovery. Germany is ready to make its contribution,” Schroeder emphasized.
FRANCE: President Jacques Chirac maintained that the delivery of Milosevic would send a strong message about human dignity.
“Milosevic, who is indicted for war crimes and crimes against humanity, will finally answer for his crimes. His transfer to the international criminal tribunal is an act of justice,” Chirac said in a statement in Paris.
GREAT BRITAIN: Prime Minister Tony Blair called the Milosevic extradition “very good news.”
The former political and military leaders of Croatian Serbs, Milan Martic and Mile Mrksic, have been arrested and transferred to the international war crimes tribunal in The Hague, diplomatic sources in Banjaluka told BETA on June 28.
The same source said Dusan Knezevic, a Serb from Prijedor, also indicted by the tribunal, was transferred along with Martic and Mrksic.
BETA's source declined to say whether the men were transferred to The Hague from Serbia or Republika Srpska.
Rumor in Banjaluka has it that Martic and Mrksic were arrested in Serbia, from where they were transferred to Tuzla. Sources close to the Serbian authorities told BETA that they did not know any details of the arrest.
The Hague-based International War Crimes Tribunal (ICTY) spokesperson Florence Hartman said that the Yugoslav authorities had been handed a list of some twenty people, whom the ICTY expects to be extradited, including Serbian President Milan Milutinovic.
In a statement to the June 28 issue of the Sarajevo-based daily Dnevni Avaz, Hartman said that the ICTY was expecting Milutinovic's extradition.
Hartman also said that the list included people who “are on the public, but also on the sealed list,” who, according to ICTY information “are in Yugoslavia.”
The Belgrade district court said on June 28 that the exhumation of the bodies from a mass grave at a police center in Batajnica, Belgrade, has been completed.
36 bodies were found, nine of which were children younger than seven years old. An eight month-old fetus was also found among the bodies, a statement said.
The majority of the bodies was found in an advanced stage of decomposition. Some of the bodies had burn marks on them. All of the clothes found on and around the bodies were civilian.
The bodies were buried in a two-meter deep 3x3 meter hole. Additional analyses will establish the cause of death.
Projectiles were found in the bodies.
DNA analyses will establish the identity of the bodies.
Representatives from the international war crimes court, the OSCE, the International Missing Persons Commission, the non-government Humanitarian Law Fund and the Yugoslav government committee for Kosovo observed the autopsies.
Belgrade Radio B92 has claimed that the bodies were from Suva Reka, Kosovo.
NO CHILDREN'S CORPSES UNEARTHED FROM PETROVO SELO MASS GRAVES, CLAIMS EXPERT
Medical examiner Vujadin Otasevic from the Nis-based medical institute said on June 28 that “so far no children's corpses had been discovered” in the mass graves near Petrovo Selo.
“So far we have unearthed several dozen corpses. All the unearthed corpses are of grown men, and we assume, of one woman. All the bodies have visible firearm wounds on them,” said Otasevic and expressed the belief that experts working on the site of the mass grave would end their task within four to five days.
In its June 28 issue, the Belgrade-based daily Vecernje Novosti, reported that the former commander of the Serbian secret police special squad, Milorad “Legija” Lukovic, together with his family has departed for Republika Srpska (RS).
The daily also reported that Legija had left the country since he wanted to hush up the incident during which he fired in the air. However, the daily said that Legija might have left Yugoslavia due to a possible Hague-based International War Crimes Tribunal (ICTY) indictment against him for war crimes.
In an interview to the June 28 issue of the Podgorica-based magazine Istok, Marija Milosevic, the daughter of former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic, described Serbia as a concentration camp, ruled by Gypsies, Jews, Tzintzars, and Turks.
Marija Milosevic severely protested against the adoption of the Yugoslav government's Decree on cooperation with The Hague-based International War Crimes Tribunal.
The Yugoslav Ministry for National and Ethnic Communities reacted to Milosevic's statement, saying that a public prosecutor should pay attention to her remarks.
The ministry described the words of Marija Milosevic as an expression of racism and the remains of the defeated policy from the time of Milosevic's rule.
In its announcement, the ministry said that “the new democratic authorities are determined to build Serbia and Yugoslavia as a multi-cultural and multi-ethnic community, which will be home for all its citizens, regardless of their nationality, religion, and race.”
The Donors' Conference for Yugoslavia will be held in Brussels on June 29, during which aid of approximately $US1.25 billion is expected to be allocated to Belgrade.
The conference will begin at 9 a.m. with the expose of the European Commission and World Bank co-presidents and Yugoslav representatives, after which the Yugoslav delegation will present frameworks of economic policy. Representatives of the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the European Commission will discuss the micro economic policy.
During the second part of the conference, the World Bank, the European Commission, and the Yugoslav delegation will present programs of economic recovery and transition.
The Yugoslav delegation at the Donors' Conference is headed by Yugoslav Deputy Prime Minister Miroljub Labus, while the Serbian part of the delegation is headed by Serbian Minister for Economic Ties with abroad, and the Montenegrin delegation by republican Finance Minister Miroslav Ivanisevic.
In Brussels, Labus described the Donors' Conference for Yugoslavia as very important, since it would secure the means for the reconstruction of infrastructure and of Yugoslav economic capacities in general.
After the U.S. decision to participate in the conference, the interest of donors significantly increased, it was said at a press briefing in the Yugoslav Foreign Ministry on June 28.
It was also said in the Yugoslav Foreign Ministry that the initially announced number of 200 donors, had gone up to 270, while certain potential donors would even have to be rejected, since the interest in financial investment in Yugoslavia had significantly increased following the U.S. decision, which is still conditioned on Yugoslavia's further cooperation with The Hague-based International War Crimes Tribunal.
A ranking official from Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica's Democratic Party of Serbia called for the holding of “elections on every level” on June 28, saying it was among the promises made by the ruling Democratic Opposition of Serbia bloc in last September's elections.
Miroslav Ljesnjak said that the Democratic Party of Serbia would run in the elections independently, “or in coalition with a smaller party of similar provenance like the Movement for Democratic Serbia” of former Yugoslav army general Momcilo Perisic.
Ljesnjak ruled out the possibility of Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica's party forming a coalition with the Socialist or Radical parties.