Milosevic Faces New U.N. Charges

TIMES STAFF WRITER

War crimes prosecutors expanded their indictment against deposed Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic on Friday, vowing to bring their infamous captive to account for alleged crimes so that "the victims will not be forgotten and that their stories will be told."

Hours after the 59-year-old Milosevic was taken to The Hague's Scheveningen Prison in a stealthy overnight extradition, Chief Prosecutor Carla del Ponte said additional accusations had been delivered to Milosevic's cell. He is to be arraigned Tuesday in his first public appearance since arriving in handcuffs at the detention unit of the United Nations' International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia.

The new claims are detailed in a numbing litany of killings, torture, terror and degradation meted out to ethnic Albanians in Kosovo province by Milosevic henchmen in the months before and during NATO's 11-week 1999 assault on Yugoslavia to halt systematic "ethnic cleansing."

The new indictment adds to the charges brought in May 1999 chilling accounts of Serbian gunmen executing extended families and lobbing grenades into crowded cafes where women, children and old men were among those blasted apart.

It recounts how Serbian guards killed 50 ethnic Albanian captives at Dubrava prison in Kosovo, raking the fortress courtyard with machine-gun fire from watchtowers and battlements, then dropping grenades into sewers and drains to slay those who had hidden.

It lengthens, in gut-wrenching detail, the list of named murder victims from the original indictment's 344 ethnic Albanians to 578--still a mere fraction of the 10,000 killed in the savagery that provoked the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to step in.

"The victims of horrendous crimes must be able to see that there is an effective mechanism for bringing these accused before a court of law to account for their actions," Del Ponte told journalists. "Nobody is above the law, or beyond the reach of international justice. The international community today is demonstrating its determination that the victims will not be forgotten and that their stories will be told."

Del Ponte also disclosed that investigators, only recently able to comb Yugoslav territory for further evidence of Milosevic's bloody choreography of the past decade's Balkan violence, were preparing further indictments for his role in killings and atrocities in Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina in the last decade. At least 20,000 people died during the war in Croatia waged by Serbian rebels armed and financed by the Milosevic regime. The death toll in Bosnia over 3 1/2 years of slaughter and ethnic cleansing exceeded 200,000, and 2 million were driven into exile.

The chief prosecutor did not rule out eventual charges of genocide but said investigators did not yet have sufficient evidence to support that accusation.

Del Ponte and the tribunal's president, Claude Jorda, celebrated the court's long-awaited custody of the world's most-wanted war crimes suspect, yet cautioned that their work was far from complete as other indicted suspects remain free and beyond the grasp of the tribunal, which has no powers of enforcement.

"Radovan Karadzic and [Gen.] Ratko Mladic were first indicted almost six years ago," Del Ponte said of the Bosnian Serbs' wartime political and military leaders, whose whereabouts are not known. "The fact that they have not been arrested when we are preparing the trial of other members of the Bosnian Serb leadership is scandalous."

She expressed hope that Milosevic's arrest will prove a turning point and lend "renewed energy to the task of arresting those fugitives that are still at liberty."

The extradition of Milosevic instilled pride and confidence in the international community that strides were being made toward justice in the Balkans. It also spurred Western donors, who gathered Friday in Brussels to weigh a Yugoslav economic recovery program, to pledge $1.28 billion in aid for the ravaged remnants of what was once the Communist world's prosperous showcase.

The U.S., which had warned that its aid would be contingent on Yugoslav compliance with the tribunal, promised $181.6 million.

Washington had suggested that it would offer about $110 million but boosted its contribution as an apparent reward for the tough decision to send Milosevic to the tribunal despite strong opposition among Yugoslav political leaders. Protests and government resignations have threatened more turmoil in Serbia and Montenegro, the republics that make up Yugoslavia.

"Serbia and Montenegro need the strong support of the international community at this critical juncture," Larry Napper, U.S. ambassador for Eastern European assistance, told the donors conference. "The United States will do its part to meet this urgent need."

After a decade of war and misguided nationalist leadership, Yugoslavia suffers 150% inflation and has $12 billion in foreign debt. Its unemployment rate is 50%.

Yugoslav Deputy Prime Minister Miroljub Labus hailed the extradition of Milosevic and the supportive pledges of the U.S., the World Bank and the 15-nation European Union as evidence that "we are fully back in the international community, politically, diplomatically and financially." He also hinted that further extraditions might be in the offing "after a pause."

Four top Milosevic aides, including Serbian President Milan Milutinovic, are named in the indictment with the former strongman.

Del Ponte alluded to the volatile atmosphere in Yugoslavia and to the new strains resulting from Milosevic's extradition. But she urged its citizens to keep in mind that bringing their former leader to justice is a step toward restoring peace and normality.

"Not everybody in Yugoslavia agreed with the decision [to extradite]. Some of the comments made last night spoke of a defeat for Serbia," she noted. "But there is no question of defeat or victory today. The Serbian people are not on trial here. The history of Serbia is not under examination. It is Slobodan Milosevic as an individual who will now face trial on charges brought against him for his actions."

Milosevic spent his first full day in international custody undergoing a medical examination, which tribunal sources said turned up no apparent health problems. However, he will be kept in isolation for his own security and will be under observation for at least 10 days.

Milosevic, who is known to suffer from depression and whose parents committed suicide, had threatened to kill himself rather than submit to arrest and detention earlier this year. However, he did not fulfill that vow when police of the new reformist regime in Belgrade, the Yugoslav and Serbian capital, stormed his villa in April and his own daughter was said to have urged him to turn a gun on himself.

The only images of Milosevic in tribunal custody have been a few seconds of grainy footage captured by Dutch TV showing a handcuffed man with bushy gray hair, his head held high in signature defiance, as he was led across the Scheveningen Prison courtyard from the helicopter that brought him.

In Belgrade, an attorney retained by Milosevic to answer corruption charges in Yugoslavia said the new detainee described his extradition as a kidnapping.

"He said that he doesn't feel guilty because his policy was to protect the interests of the Serbian people, and he said he would do the same again," Branimir Gugl told the Reuters news agency. "He feels more for his family than himself. He was trying to calm them down."

Milosevic, the first head of state to face the tribunal, is charged with murder, crimes against humanity and violation of the laws and customs of war.

The expanded indictment against Milosevic coincided with the final day of the war crimes trial of the genocide proceedings against Gen. Radislav Krstic. He is accused of commanding Serbian forces that attacked and overran the U.N.-designated "safe haven" in and around the Bosnian city of Srebrenica in 1995. The campaign left at least 7,500 Muslim men and boys dead or missing.

A verdict in that trial is expected next month.

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MORE INSIDE

Aftermath: Yugoslav premier resigns, portending a shake-up. On the street, reaction to Milosevic's extradition is mixed. A10

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