U.N. tribunal reports Serbia to Security Council

THE HAGUE Mon Jun 23, 2008 3:37pm BST

Fausto Pocar, president of the U.N. war crimes tribunal, speaks during a news conference in The Hague, the Netherlands, March 17, 2006. REUTERS/Ronald Fleurbaaij

Fausto Pocar, president of the U.N. war crimes tribunal, speaks during a news conference in The Hague, the Netherlands, March 17, 2006.

Credit: Reuters/Ronald Fleurbaaij

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THE HAGUE (Reuters) - The criminal tribunal for former Yugoslavia has reported the Serbian government to the United Nations Security Council for failing to cooperate in the case of former Serbian President Milan Milutinovic.

The tribunal said on Monday that the court's president Fausto Pocar had written to the Security Council last week after Serbia failed to get General Aleksander Dimitrijevic, former head of the Yugoslav's Army Security Administration, to testify.

"By failing to comply with its duties, the government of Serbia is challenging the authority of the international tribunal and the Security Council," Pocar said.

He said Serbia had failed to help serve a summons on Dimitrijevic to appear as a witness, despite repeated requests. Pocar also cast doubt on reports that the general was undergoing medical treatment following heart surgery.

The tribunal in the Dutch city of The Hague wants Dimitrijevic to testify in the case against Milutinovic, an ally of late Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, and his five co-accused. They went on trial in 2006, charged with the forcible deportation of about 800,000 civilians and the murder of hundreds of civilians by Serb forces in Kosovo in 1999.

Milutinovic and his co-defendants have pleaded not guilty to crimes against humanity including murder, deportation and one charge of war crimes. Milutinovic has argued he had little real power as Serbian president.

Milutinovic succeeded Milosevic as president of Serbia in 1997. He was Milosevic's representative during negotiations over Kosovo in early 1999 which ended in an impasse and resulted in the 78-day NATO bombing of Yugoslavia and the eventual withdrawal of Serb forces.

Serbia's cooperation with the Hague tribunal over fugitive war crimes suspects is a pre-condition for the country's progress towards European Union membership.

Former Bosnian Serb army commander Ratko Mladic, Bosnian Serb political leader Radovan Karadzic and Croatian Serb wartime leader Goran Hadzic are still at large and are believed to be hiding either in Serbia or in the Serb-run half of Bosnia.

(Reporting by Emma Thomasson, editing by Mark Trevelyan)

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