Thursday, February 24, 2011

War Crimes: UN tribunal convicts former Serbian police official for crimes in Kosovo

The United Nations tribunal set up to deal with the worst offences committed during the Balkan conflicts of the 1990s today convicted a former senior Serbian police official for crimes carried out in Kosovo and sentenced him to 27 years imprisonment.

Vlastimir Ðordevic, the former Assistant Minister of the Serbian Ministry of Internal Affairs and Chief of its Public Security Department, was convicted of crimes against humanity and war crimes by the UN International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), based in The Hague.

He was found guilty of participating in a “joint criminal exercise in 1999, whose aim was to change the ethnic balance of Kosovo to ensure Serbian dominance in the territory,” according to a news release issued by the Tribunal.

“This objective was pursued through a widespread campaign of terror and violence against ethnic Albanians, which included deportations, murders, forcible transfers and persecutions.”

Mr. Ðordevic was found to be responsible for the murder of “not less than 724 Kosovo Albanians” who were murdered by Serbian forces, in most cases police, in several municipalities.

“In the large majority of cases the victims, including many women and children, were civilians, who were unarmed and not in any way participating in any form of armed conflict,” the court found.

Among the incidents of murder for which Mr. Ðordevic bears responsibility, according to the Tribunal, was the shooting and subsequent torching of 114 men and boys from a village near Orahovac/Rahovec who were killed by the police on 26 March 1999.

He was also found responsible for the deportation of at least 200,000 of the estimated 800,000 Kosovo Albanians that left Kosovo between 24 March and 20 June 1999.

Mr. Ðordevic is the eighth former senior Serbian official to be tried by the ICTY and the sixth to be convicted. Since its establishment, the Tribunal has indicted 161 persons for serious violations of humanitarian law committed on the territory of the former Yugoslavia between 1991 and 2001. Proceedings against 125 have been concluded, while proceedings are currently ongoing for 34 accused.