New crisis over Milošević
Yugoslavia is facing a government crisis over former dictator Slobodan Milošević. The federal government, composed of Serbia's DOS coalition of President Vojislav Koštunica and Montenegro's pro-Communist Socialist People's Party (SNP), failed to agree on a draft law on co-operation with the UN war crimes tribunal in The Hague.
DOS insists that the law, which would, for the first time, allow the extradition of Yugoslav citizens, should put such a decision in the hands of federal authorities. The SNP wants to put the decision on two Yugoslav republics, Serbia and Montenegro, which since 1992 have been united in the Yugoslav federation.
Yugoslav Interior Minister Zoran Živković (DOS) has asked government members to prepare their resignations over the issue. That would mean new federal elections, which could be the end of Yugoslavia.
President Koštunica has surprisingly defended the draft, since he had promised not to deliver Milošević to the Tribunal, saying it was necessary to revive Yugoslavia's relations with the international community. The obvious reason for this is that the USA and Western countries have been stepping up pressure on Yugoslavia to co-operate with the UN Tribunal ahead of an international conference of donors on 29 June, which would review further economic assistance to the country.
The resistance of SNP is easy to understand, knowing the fact that this party, actual opposition in Montenegro, was in a coalition with Milošević until 5 October, when he was overthrown in people's uprising. Therefore, their refusal to co-operate on this law could be understood as a face saving measure.
According to the Constitution, only the federal government can pass laws regarding freedom, rights and duties of citizens as well as sanctions in this field. Many law experts think that handing over of persons indicted of war crimes to the UN Tribunal was not extradition since the Tribunal was a court of UN member countries.
As a strange sign of coincidence, Milošević's lawyer declared on Tuesday that the health of the former dictator "has worsened dramatically" and insisted that he would be transferred to hospital.
In the meantime, many officials have declared that Yugoslavia could deliver any suspects to UN Tribunal in The Hague even without any special law. This interpretation is not new and it comes from the well-known fact that the UN Tribunal is a tribunal of all member countries and, therefore, not a foreign country asking for extradition (which is not allowed by the Constitution).
Exhumation in Belgrade
Serbian Interior Minister Dušan Mihajlović confirmed to the media the existence of a mass grave in Batajnica, a suburb of Belgrade, and stated that exhumation has begun: "I believe that this case would show the so-called patriots in quite a different light."
A reliable source close to the Ministry of Interior, who wanted to remain anonymous, stated for the radio station B92 that exhumations are still being carried out and that 83 bodies and three heads have been found so far. "The bodies are those of women, children and old men, while some of them are wearing uniforms of the so-called Kosovo Liberation Army," the source said, adding that there is evidence of torture.
According to the same source, police have obtained evidence that beside the former state and police top echelon, top military brass were involved too.
On 6 April 1999, a fridge truck, containing 86 unidentified corpses, was found in the Danube, near the town of Tekija. The Danas Belgrade daily published photos of the truck from the archives of the Ministry of Interior. Minister Mihajlović stated that the action of removing corpses from Kosovo, with the code name "Deep 2," was organised by the direct order of Slobodan Milošević.
"I would prefer that it had never happened and that the case was a fabrication. Unfortunately, it is a reality. I wish this was the only case of that kind, but there are indications that there were similar cases in other parts of the country," said Mihajlović.
The bodies of more than 4000 ethnic Albanians have been exhumed in Kosovo since Yugoslav troops were forced to leave the Serbian province following the 1999 NATO air strikes. More than 3000 ethnic Albanians remain missing and the police accusations against the former president may lead to revelations about what happened to those victims.
And in other news...
- The mark "classified" is to be removed from serurity service files by order of the Serbian Minister of Interior. This will give a chance to a number of citizens of Serbia to find out why and how they have been treated as "internal enemies" by the security service. Still, many politicians declared that they would not want their files to be made public.
- The electro-energetic system of Serbia has been stabilised and electricity reductions are not expected by August, except in case of larger disorders. This government announcement was given without any further explanation.
- The phone company Telekom Srbija proposed an increase of prices in three steps, as of June (48.5 per cent), August (48.5) and November (26.5). This proposal has to be approved by the government of Serbia, but it has already been announced.
Ljubomir Pajić, 8 June 2001
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