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Verdict on Kosovo war crimes due

A United Nations war crimes court is due to deliver a verdict in the case of Serbian ex-President Milan Milutinovic.

Along with five other Serbian ex-officials, he is accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity during the conflict in Kosovo in the 1990s.

It is the court’s first ruling on crimes allegedly committed by Serbs in the Kosovo conflict.

Prosecutors in The Hague are seeking jail terms of between 20 years and life for the men, who all deny the charges.

The charges in the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) focus on an alleged campaign of terror and violence which included the expulsion of 800,000 ethnic Albanians from Kosovo.

The allegations also include the murders of hundreds of civilians.

Lost immunity

Mr Milutinovic was seen largely as a figurehead president of Serbia during the conflict in Kosovo, with real power in the hands of his mentor, Slobodan Milosevic, the then-President of Yugoslavia.

Slobodan Milosevic died in tribunal custody in 2006, before a verdict was delivered in his own trial, giving this trial much greater significance, says BBC correspondent Helen Fawkes in Belgrade.

It is the largest case at the UN war crimes tribunal for former Yugoslavia that has ever reached this stage.

The six defendants were on trial from July 2006 to August 2008.

The other five defendants are Serb former Yugoslav deputy prime minister Nikola Sainovic, ex-defence minister Dragoljub Ojdanic, ex-army commanders Nebojsa Pavkovic, and Vladimir Lazarevic, and former public security service chief Sreten Lukic.

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.

This article was originally posted on BBC News

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