Milutinović et al. ('Kosovo six') Judgement Delivered 26 Feb 2009
Former Serbian President Milan Milutinović has been acquitted by the ICTY, while his co- accused have received sentences ranging from 15 to 22 years.

(From top-left) Nebojsa Pavkovic, Milan Milutinovic, Dragoljub Ojdanic, (From bottom-left) Sreten Lukic, Nikola Sainovic and Vladimir Lazarevic. 
On 26 February 2009, Trial Chamber III at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) delivered its judgement in the case of Milutinović et al., acquitting the former Serbian President of all charges but finding his co-accused guilty of crimes against humanity and war crimes. The decision is the first to be handed down concerning crimes committed by Serbian forces in Kosovo in 1999, including deportation, forcible transfer and murder.

The case of Milutinović et al., also known as the ‘Kosovo six’ case, involved six senior political, military and police officials from Serbia and the former Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) accused of perpetrating crimes against Kosovo Albanians and other non-Serbs during the 1999 conflict in Kosovo. The accused, all former associates of Slobodan Milošević, were: former Serbian President, Milan Milutinović; Yugoslav Deputy Prime Minister, Nikola Šainović; Yugoslav Army Chief of Staff, Dragoljub Ojdanić; Yugoslav Army generals, Nebojša Pavković and Vladimir Lazarević and Serbian police General, Sreten Lukić.

The accused were charged with participating in a joint criminal enterprise (JCE) aimed at the forcible transfer and deportation of around 800,000 Kosovo Albanians to ‘ethnically cleanse’ Kosovo. In addition, the indictment alleged that the accused bore responsibility for a widespread campaign of violence systematically destroying towns, targeting cultural and religious institutions and sexually assaulting Kosovo Albanian women.

The Trial Chamber held that Milutinović had no real authority over the forces perpetrating such crimes against civilians in Kosovo. It held that Milutinović did not exercise effective control over the Yugoslav Army (VJ) and that his de facto powers over the Interior Ministry police forces (MUP) were not significant. Milutinović was acquitted on all of the five counts in the indictment.
 
Šainović, Pavković and Lukić were found to have made a ‘significant contribution’ to the execution of the JCE, sentencing them to 22 years’ imprisonment each for crimes against humanity and war crimes. Lazarević and Ojdanić were both found guilty of aiding and abetting the deportation and forcible transfer of ethnic Albanians from Kosovo, each receiving 15 years’ imprisonment.

“Widespread campaign of violence”

The Trial Chamber found that from March until June 1999 and during the NATO air-strikes that began on 24 March, the VJ and MUP, under the control of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and Serbian authorities, were responsible for committing a “widespread campaign of violence”. The Chamber found that this campaign was conducted in an organised manner using “significant state resources” in the execution of the JCE.

The decision of the Tribunal follows the commencement on 27 January 2009 of the final case involving alleged crimes committed in Kosovo, that of Vlastimir Đorđević. Đorđević was initially indicted alongside the Kosovo six, but in June 2006, with the accused still at large, his indictment was severed so that the Milutinović et al. case could proceed. Prior to this case and the decision in Milutinović et al., Slobodan Milošević and Vlajko Stojiljković had stood trial accused of crimes perpetrated in Kosovo, but both died before the end of their trials.

The Milutinović et al. judgement marks the end of a trial process which began on 10 July 2006, with closing arguments heard in August 2008. A total of 235 witnesses gave testimony in the case.

Milan Milutinović
Nikola Šainović
Dragoljub Ojdanić
Nebojša Pavković
Vladimir Lazarević
Sreten Lukić

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