Page last updated at 16:52 GMT, Thursday, 26 February 2009

Profiles: Kosovo trial accused

Six top Serbian officials have been tried at the International War Crimes Tribunal for former Yugoslavia (ICTY) at The Hague, charged with ordering a systematic campaign of terror and violence against Kosovo Albanians in the 1990s.

Former Serbian President Milan Milutinovic was acquitted, while the five other men were found guilty on some or all of the charges and given prison sentences of up to 22 years.


Mr Milutinovic, 66, inherited the presidency of Serbia from his political mentor, Slobodan Milosevic, when the latter became Yugoslav president in 1997.

Milan Milutinovic
Mr Milutinovic was a loyal associate of Slobodan Milosevic

He was also a member of Yugoslavia's Supreme Defence Council, which was chaired by Milosevic. He shared ultimate responsibility for the army's actions in Kosovo.

A year earlier, Mr Milutinovic barely managed to scrape through the presidential elections. The turnout, according to controversial official figures, was just 0.9% above the required 50% of the electorate.

But he achieved Milosevic's objective on the fourth attempt - to beat ultra-nationalist opposition leader Vojislav Seselj, who is still awaiting trial in The Hague on separate charges.

Mr Milutinovic was a loyal associate of Milosevic and served as Yugoslavia's foreign minister. He accompanied the president at the Dayton peace talks in November 1995 which ended the war in Bosnia-Hercegovina.

At one time he was Yugoslavia's ambassador in Athens - a key posting because Greece, a fellow-Orthodox Christian country, was the only Nato member with a pro-Serb public opinion during the wars in the former Yugoslavia.

Although Mr Milutinovic was indicted during the Kosovo conflict in 1999, he served out his full five-year term as president until the end of 2002. It was only after he lost his immunity as president that he surrendered.

According to the ICTY indictment, Mr Milutinovic had personal responsibility as president of Serbia and had at least formal control of Serb forces.

He pleaded not guilty, arguing that he had had little real power as president of Serbia.

On 26 February 2009, he was acquitted by the ICTY.


Mr Sainovic, 60, was deputy prime minister of Yugoslavia for six years until Milosevic was defeated during the presidential election of September 2000.

Nikola Sainovic. File photo
Mr Sainovic played a leading role in Kosovo policy

He was also instrumental on all matters relating to Kosovo, co-ordinating policy and engaging in diplomatic talks.

He attended the Kosovo peace talks in Rambouillet, France, in February 1999 as one of the senior members of the Belgrade delegation.

Ultimately the talks failed and Nato launched a military intervention in Kosovo.

A few weeks earlier, US officials said they had intercepted a phone call in which Mr Sainovic allegedly ordered Serbian security forces to move in hard on Kosovo Albanians.

Mr Sainovic is an experienced political operator who performed a number of sensitive errands for Milosevic.

A former economics minister and then, briefly, Serbia's prime minister, he maintained close links with the Bosnian Serb offshoot of Milosevic's Socialist Party during the war there.

It was during the final phase of Milosevic's rule, especially at the time of the Kosovo conflict, that Mr Sainovic carried out his most important assignments for his leader.

In May 1999, the ICTY indicted Mr Sainovic for alleged war crimes committed in Kosovo in 1998 and 1999. He gave himself up to the tribunal in May 2002.

On 26 February 2009, Mr Sainovic was found guilty of deportation, forcible transfer, murder and persecution and received a 22-year prison sentence.


Gen Ojdanic, 67, was the Yugoslav army's chief-of-staff at the time when the Kosovo war was in its most intense phase.

Gen Dragoljub Ojdanic
Gen Ojdanic was rewarded for his loyalty during the war

A relative latecomer to Milosevic's inner circle, Gen Ojdanic was appointed to his post in November 1998 after his predecessor, Gen Momcilo Perisic, had disagreed with Milosevic's plans to use the army in Kosovo, Montenegro and against the opposition in Serbia.

Unlike Gen Perisic, who argued that it would be suicidal to resist Nato's threatened air strikes, Gen Ojdanic was willing to go along with Milosevic's policy.

The military's importance greatly increased with the escalation of the Kosovo conflict and Nato air strikes and placed Gen Ojdanic on centre stage.

As a reward for his loyalty, he was appointed Yugoslavia's defence minister after the war. He served less than a year due to Milosevic's fall from power.

Gen Ojdanic surrendered to the court after being indicted by the ICTY in May 1999.

On 26 February 2009, he was acquitted of murder and persecution, but jailed for 15 years for deportation and the forcible transfer of civilians.


Gen Pavkovic, 62, was appointed commander of Yugoslavia's Third Army - the force that had responsibility for Kosovo - at the end of 1998.

Gen Nebojsa Pavkovic. File photo
Gen Pavkovic was one of Milosevic's favourites during the war

He had previously served as commander of the Pristina Corps where he was based from 1994 onwards.

During the war he became one of Milosevic's favourites after he backed the president's refusal to accept the Rambouillet accords.

Following the end of the Kosovo conflict, he was promoted to chief-of-staff of the army when Gen Ojdanic was appointed defence minister.

Unlike Gen Ojdanic, he survived in his post for a further two years following Milosevic's fall - not least because he refused to deploy the army against the huge crowds in Belgrade that were demanding that Milosevic accept his electoral defeat.

The indictments against Gen Pavkovic were unsealed by ICTY prosecutors in October 2003, but it was not until April 2005 that he agreed to surrender to the court.

Gen Pavkovic was found guilty on 26 February 2009 of deportation, forcible transfer, murder and persecution and given a 22-year prison sentence.


Gen Lazarevic, 59, followed in Gen Pavkovic's footsteps, first as commander of the Pristina Corps during the Kosovo war, and then as commander of the Third Army after the conflict.

Gen Vladimir Lazarevic
Gen Lazarevic stayed on in the army until 2003

During the war, his corps took the brunt of the impact of Nato air strikes.

Gen Lazarevic's own vehicle was hit, but he emerged unscathed.

Although a close Milosevic supporter who accused the former president's political opponents of being the "extended arm of Nato and the Albanian rebels", Gen Lazarevic stayed for three years after Milosevic lost office.

Gen Lazarevic was indicted by the ICTY in 2003 and surrendered in January 2005.

Along with Gen Ojdanic, he was convicted on 26 February 2009 of deportation and forcible transfer of civilians but acquitted of murder and persecution. He received a 15-year prison sentence.


Gen Lukic served as head of the ministry of the interior's staff for Kosovo during the war.

Gen Sreten Lukic. File photo
Gen Lukic was kept in the army in the post-Milosevic era

He was in charge of police forces that included heavily-armed special units which did much of the fighting.

After the war, Gen Lukic was promoted to assistant minister of the interior, and he was regarded as a competent professional by Serbia's democratic leaders in the post-Milosevic. They kept him on to reform the police forces.

Like Gen Pavkovic and Gen Lazarevic, he was charged in 2003 - four years after the indictments against Milosevic, Mr Milutinovic, Mr Sainovic and Gen Ojdanic.

He surrendered to the ICTY in 2005.

Along with Mr Sainovic and Gen Pavkovic, Gen Lukic was found guilty on 26 February 2009 of deportation, forcible transfer, murder and persecution and given a 22-year prison sentence.

The fourth person to be indicted in 2003 was police Gen Vlastimir Djordjevic who was Gen Lukic's superior and had responsibility for police units in Kosovo during the war.

A fugitive until his arrest in June 2007, Gen Djordjevic went on trial at The Hague on 27 January 2009. He denies charges of deportation, murder and persecution.

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