Agence France Presse, April 03, 2001
Serbian premier insists on Yugoslav trial for Milosevic
ROME, April 3 (AFP) -
Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic defended in a newspaper interview Tuesday Belgrade's decision to put former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic on trial in his home country.
"I believe that we have the right to resolve our own problems. The trial will be held in this country," Djindjic said in the interview published in La Stampa newspaper.
Belgrade wants to try Milosevic for abuse of power and siphoning off millions of dollars but has resisted international pressure for the former leader to be transfered to The Hague to face war crimes charges at a UN tribunal based in The Netherlands.
The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) has indicted Milosevic and several of his allies for crimes against humanity and war crimes committed during the 1999 Serbian terror campaign against ethnic Albanians in Kosovo.
"We are open for cooperation, ready for other evidence and ready to include other accusations in the trial," Djindjic said.
"We do not want to limit ourselves to economic crimes," he said.
The tribunal's chief prosecutor, Carla del Ponte, said Monday she had also prepared an indictment against Milosevic for his role in the 1992-95 Bosnian war, which cost 200,000 lives in the most bitter fighting in Europe since World War II.
She hinted the indictment could include genocide charges.
Djindjic said that it had become clear after presidential elections held last September that "Milosevic would never accept the rules".
"We knew that in case of victory we would have to deal with Milosevic not in parliament but physically, not because we wanted to but because he wanted to; because he has never cared about legality," said the premier.
As Milosevic could not be arrested right after the elections, "it was necessary to respect the law and assemble testimonies and evidence, which took time and was complicated," he added.
Djindjic said that preparations to arrest Milosevic began "Friday at nine in the morning" and that he "only learnt about them at six in the evening".
"The idea wasn't to arrest Milosevic but to prepare a future arrest by changing his bodyguards," he added.
"At that point it wasn't necessary yet for the country's leadership to be informed," he continued but added: "By resisting, Milosevic rushed things."