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Milosevic Indictment Expanded to Include Croatia - 2001-09-28


The chief prosecutor for the U.N. war crimes tribunal for the former Yugoslavia has signed a new indictment against former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic. The new charges are for alleged crimes committed in Croatia.

Slobodan Milosevic has been sitting in a jail cell for three months now, since being flown out of Serbia in June. He is awaiting trial for crimes against humanity that he is charged with committing in Kosovo.

Carla Del Ponte is the chief war crimes prosecutor for the UN International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague. She had said that she would file additional charges against the former Yugoslav president for crimes allegedly committed in Bosnia and Croatia as well.

On Thursday, she took the first step, signing a new indictment for alleged atrocities committed during the 1991-95 Croatian war. The exact nature of the charges will not be known until judges confirm the indictment, and it is made public. They will do that in the coming days, if they believe there is enough evidence for a case.

Carla Del Ponte's deputy says the new Croatian charges do not include genocide. That charge will come in the next couple of weeks, say prosecutors, when they submit their Bosnia indictment, which they insist is strong. Ms. Del Ponte's spokeswoman says the prosecutor decided to give her team a little more time to prepare the indictment, so the charges reflect what they call the totality of Slobodan Milosevic's criminal responsibility. Although Ms. Del Ponte admits it will be hard work to convict Slobodan Milosevic, she is confident prosecutors will succeed.

Mr. Milosevic will appear in court again in October, when prosecutor Del Ponte says she hopes he will refrain from making the political declarations he has made in the past. "The amusement is [over], I hope, and it will be now serious work," she said.

Slobodan Milosevic has refused to recognize the court and hire lawyers, leaving judges to appoint three so-called friends of the court to ensure he gets a fair trial. Judges want that trial to begin early next year.

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