Birth of Democracy: Revolution overthrows a dictator in Yugoslavia. (10/11/00)
Multimedia: We Are Bosnians
Milosevic Indicted (08/30/01)
Milosevic on Trial (07/03/01)
Yugoslavia votes to extradite former president Slobodan Milosevic to the Hague on war crimes charges. (06/25/01)
Hague Prosecutor Carla del Ponte on the case against Slobodan Milosevic (05/08/01)
Yugoslavia in transition (10/10/00)
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In the mid-1990s Americans were captivated by the televised trial of football legend OJ Simpson, accused of killing his former wife and a friend. At the time it was called "the trial of the century."
But the trial of our new century is about to begin.
On February 12, Slobodan Milosevic, the dictator who ran Yugoslavia for 13 years, will stand before an international court to defend himself against charges of human rights abuses and genocide.
The case is the most important war crimes trial in Europe since the end of World War II. If found guilty, Milosevic will be the only head of state ever convicted by an international court and jailed for war crimes.
The verdict will affect how leaders of all countries view their responsibilities when they go to war and when they violate human rights within their own borders.
After the fall of Communism in 1989, Bosnia and Croatia, two of the six states, decided to break away from Yugoslavia and become independent. The break-up of Yugoslavia caused three different wars.
Slobodan Milosevic, president of Yugoslavia at that time, wanted to keep all the states under his control, so he went to war with them. However, Milosevic did not fight the clean fight.
When Milosevic was president, he had a plan for a Greater Serbia, which meant a state for Serb people. The Serbs are a distinct ethnic group, with their own language and religion.
As the former Yugoslavia states split apart, Milosevic developed a plan for a Serb-only state that was similar to what Hitler sought to do in Germany.
Slowly, thousands of non-Serbs living in Yugoslavia disappeared. Many were killed, and their bodies later discovered in mass graves throughout Croatia, Bosnia, and Kosovo.
Around 800,0000 non-Serbs, lucky not to be outright killed, were fired from their jobs and kicked out their homes. Their homes and jobs were given to Serbs.
When Milosevic stepped up his plan to slaughter all the ethnic Albanians living in Kosovo, NATO, an international force led by the United States, launched air strikes to stop him.
In 1999, NATO bombed Yugoslavia for 78 days, destroying roads, bridges and utilities. The bombing stopped after Milosevic backed away from his plan.
In October 2000, the people of Yugoslavia voted Milosevic out of office.
Now that Milosevic is removed from office, the international war crimes tribunal is trying to hold him accountable for crimes committed while he was in power.
Charges, Counts and Conspiracy Claims
The case against Milosevic was built by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), established by the United Nations in 1993.
Its mission is to investigate and prosecute war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity dating back to 1991. The tribunal has indicted almost 100 people for war crimes.
Milosevic will be tried at the United Nations war crimes court, based in a city in the Netherlands called The Hague.
The charges against Milosevic stem from three different wars and include the deaths of nearly 900 ethnic Albanians, 32 counts of war crimes and genocide.
The tribunal charges Milosevic committed 66 counts of "crimes against humanity" that violate the laws and regulations of war.
Milosevic refuses to recognize the tribunal, saying the trial and the charges are just for show. He called the charges "abnormal and nonsensical" and says he was protecting Serbs and trying to bring peace to the troubled republics of Yugoslavia.
Milosevic also calls the trial a plot to blacken the memory of his rule.
"I would call this an evil and hostile attack aimed at justifying the crimes committed against my country," said Milosevic. "This is an unprecedented attempt to turn a victim into a culprit."
He argues that the entire case is just a way to justify NATO's bombing of Serbia in 1999.
Milosevic, who is a trained lawyer, has ignored court advice to get a defense attorney and plans to represent himself.
A Trial Worth Watching
Despite three separate indictment charges, Slobodan Milosevic will face only one trial. Chief prosecutor Carla del Ponte successfully argued with pre-trial judges for to combine the charges.
"They are one strategy, one scheme. To create a greater Serbia by forced and violent expulsion of the non-Serbian population," said Del Ponte.
President Clinton, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, and former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright are among the world leaders mentioned as possible witnesses. Since Milosevic plans to represent himself, he will get to cross-examine Clinton or Blair should they take the witness stand.
If found guilty, Milosevic would likely spend the rest of his life in jail.
Since the world court does not issue death sentences, Milosevic would serve the time in a jail located in the Netherlands.
The trial is expected to take two years and will be broadcast over the Internet.
-- By Carl Ballard, NewsHour Extra
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