Slobodan Milosevic was extradited to the
war crimes tribunal in The Hague this week by Serbian reformist
government, provoking political and constitutional crises
that could destroy the last vestiges of Yugoslavia.
For Slobodan Milosevic, a man who at the
peak of his powers held sway over half the Balkans and won
the adoration of millions of Serbs, it must have come as a
sobering shock to be roughly bundled into a police van.
Failing to acknowledge the bind he was in
until the very end, he had even refused to read the Hague
War Crimes Tribunal's indictment wedged in the bars of his
The charge sheet cites four counts in Kosovo
during 1999. But Hague officials say further counts are expected.
For Milosevic's millions of victims no punishment meted out
by the United Nations court will be harsh enough.
In his cell he will be among the like-minded:
other indicted war criminals from Yugoslav wars, some on remand,
others in the process of being tried.
The former Serbian leader, who plunged the
Balkans into a decade of war, was spirited out of his prison
He was reported to have been taken to the
Tuzla air base in neighbouring Bosnia. From there he was to
be flown to Holland in a British plane and was due in The
Hague late on Thursday night.
The extradition is a triumph for international
justice, setting the stage for the most sensational war crimes
trial since Nazi leaders were tried in Nuremberg.
The next step is a first appearance in court.
That usually happens within a week. He will be read out the
charges against him and be asked to enter a plea of guilty
or not guilty.
When Milosevic appears before the judges
the massacre at Racak will be one of the first charges he
faces. For Serbs keen to distance themselves from the man
so many once supported, it will be a sharp remainder of what
was done in their name.
The war crimes tribunal in The Hague indicted
Siobodan Milosevic and four other senior Yugoslav officials
on charges of deportation, murder and persecution, all crimes
against humanity, and murder, a violation of the laws or customs
They are accused of deporting 740.000 ethnic
Albanians from Kosovo and of murdering 340 Albanians.
In part, the indictment, dated 24th May
1999 reads: "Beginning in January 1999 and continuing
to the date of this indictment, Slobodan Milosevic (President
of Serbia), Nikola Sainovic (deputy Prime Minister of Yugoslavia),
Dragoljub Ojdanic (Chief of the Yugoslavia General Staff,
ranked Colonel-General), and Vlajko Stojilkovic (Serbian Interior
Minister) planned, instigated, ordered, committed or otherwise
aided and abetted in a campaign of terror and violence directed
at Kosovo Albanian civilians living in Kosovo in the FRY (Federal
Republic of Yugoslavia). The operations targeting the Kosovo
Albanians were undertaken with objective of removing a substantial
portion of the Kosovo Albanian population from Kosovo in an
effort to ensure continued Serbian control over the province.
"The forces of the FRY and Serbia have
in a systematic manner forcibly expelled and internally displaced
hundreds of thousands of Kosovo Albanians from their homes
across the entire province of Kosovo. Beginning on or about
1st January 1999, and continuing until the date of this indictment,
forces of the FRY and Serbia, acting at the direction, with
the encouragement, or with the support of (the indicted) have
murdered hundreds of Kosovo Albanians civilians."
These killings have occurred in a widespread
or systematic manner throughout the province of Kosovo and
have resulted in the deaths of numerous men, women, and children."
The indictment lists several cases of alleged
The prosecutors at the war crimes tribunal
in The Hague have been waiting for this day from the moment
the court was established by the United Nations eight years
One official involved in the tribunal was
jubilant. "This is the crowning moment for us,"
For the first year of its existence, the
judges, lawyers and clerical staff appeared to idle their
time surrounded by empty cells and deserted courtrooms.
Meanwhile in the Balkans fighting raged.
The worst crime of the Bosnian war, the killing of 7.000 Muslims
by Serbs at Srebrencia in July 1995, took place while the
court watched in virtual impotence.
At the end of the year, however, the tribunal
shuddered into life.
The first war crimes indictment since Nuremberg
and Tokyo trials was read out in October 1995.
Dusko Tadic, a Bosnian Serb Karate instructor
who led a militia known as the "Blue Eagles", was
accused of crimes against humanity for murdering and torturing
prisoners in the Omarska concentration camp, the biggest and
most notorious of the camps established by the Bosnian Serbs.
He went on trial in 1996 and was sentenced
to 20 years in prison the following year. The conviction was
upheld on appeal.
The pace picked up steadily after the Dayton
accords ended the Bosnian war and Nato-led peacekeepers, especially
British troops, began to arrest indicted suspects. The court
has had to expand to cope with the number of cases.
Until now, 67 of the 100 people indicted
for war crimes have remained at large, including key figures
such as Radovan Karadzic, the Bosnian Serb leader, who is
believed to be flitting between Montenegro and the Serb entity
of Bosnia, and Ratko Mladic, his military commander.
Following the extradition of Miloservic,
the days of many war criminals must be numbered
Milosevic's lawyer, Toma Fila, predicted
earlier this year that the former Yugoslav dictator would
never be seen alive in The Hague; he would rather take his
own life than stand trial.
In the end, the man responsible for so much
death and brutality lacked the nerve.
His new cell in The Hague, where he will
share the prison with 38 other indictees, will be a comfortable
room with en-suite shower, coffee-maker and television offering
a range of satellite channels (including some from the Balkans).
He will be given a daily allowance of five
guilders, which he can spend in the detention centre's shop
offering snacks, cigarettes and telephone calling cards.
"It's not luxury," said a tribunal spokesman. "But
this is a remand centre not a prison. These people are innocent
until proved otherwise. Some of them have been in for a long
time, so we try to limit the disruption."
Forty-one people are in various stages of
legal proceedings at present. Nineteen people have been found
guilty and two have been acquitted of all charges.
The arrival of Milosevic will be a boost
for human rights campaigners who have been pressing for the
creation of a permanent International Criminal Court to try
all war crimes.
"This marks a very important moment
in the life of this institution," said the tribunal's
spokesman, Jim Landale.
That was an understatement typical of the
tribunal, which has been slow but methodical and finally got
Holidays 'Can Drain the Brain'
Limitation: Long, lazy holidays devoid of
mental exertion lead to dramatic, if temporary, losses of
intelligence and sluggish performance on return to work, a
German psychologist has found. A three-week beach holiday
would lead to a 20-point fall in IQ, says Dr Siegfried of
Erlangen University. It can take up to four days to recover
former performance levels when back at work. The ideal holiday
should be neither all action or all sloth, he said.