Annual Report: Serbia 2013

Report
May 23, 2013

Annual Report: Serbia 2013

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REPUBLIC OF SERBIA, INCLUDING KOSOVO

Head of state Tomislav Nikolić (replaced Boris Tadić)

Head of government Ivica Dačić (replaced Mirko Cvetković)

Prosecutions of Ratko Mladić and Goran Hadžić began at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (Tribunal). In Belgrade more than 1,000 Roma were forcibly evicted in April. The Belgrade Pride was again banned in October. In Kosovo, impunity continued for crimes under international law perpetrated by the Kosova Liberation Army (KLA). Violence in the north, inter-ethnic attacks and discrimination against minorities continued.

Background

Following elections in May, a coalition government headed by the Serbian Progressive Party and Socialist Party of Serbia was formed in July, replacing the Democratic Party coalition government.

Both incoming President Nikolić and former President Tadić made statements that genocide had not taken place in Srebrenica.

In March, the European Council confirmed Serbia's candidacy for EU membership, but the European Commission in October recommended no date for opening negotiations, pending Serbia's “constructive participation” in talks on “normalization” of relationships with Kosovo. Talks between the respective Prime Ministers began in October.

International justice

Trials commenced in May and October respectively against former Bosnian Serb General Ratko Mladić and Croatian Serb leader Goran Hadžić, both arrested in Serbia and surrendered to the Tribunal in 2011. Serbian Radical Party leader Vojislav Šešelj, indicted for war crimes and crimes against humanity, was sentenced to two years' imprisonment for contempt of court in June.

Ramush Haradinaj, former Prime Minister of Kosovo and KLA commander, was acquitted at the Tribunal in November on charges of war crimes, following a partial retrial. Along with Idriz Balaj and Lahi Brahimaj, who were also acquitted, he had been indicted for his individual and joint responsibility for a criminal enterprise to mistreat Serb, Roma, Egyptian and Kosovo-Albanian civilians perceived as collaborating with the Serbian authorities or not supporting the KLA. Charges included unlawful detention, ill-treatment, torture and murder.

In December a Swedish appeal court acquitted a former Serbian police officer convicted in January of war crimes in Ćuška/Qyshk in Kosovo in 1999.

Serbia

Crimes under international law

Proceedings continued at the Belgrade Special War Crimes Chamber. Some 37 Serbian defendants were convicted and sentenced in first instance war crimes trials, but only seven new indictments were issued. Some witnesses allegedly were threatened by officials charged with their protection.

At the end of the year, the Appeal Court considered an appeal against the conviction of nine members of the Gnjilane/Gjilan KLA group for war crimes, including the abduction of Serbs, murder and rape. Thirty-four of the victims were still listed as missing.

Following the acquittal of two Croatian generals by the Tribunal Appeals Chamber (see Croatia entry), the War Crimes Prosecutor requested that the Tribunal made available evidence from relevant case files for use in domestic investigations into alleged war crimes against the Serb population in Croatia during Operation Storm in 1995.

Discrimination – Roma

Forced evictions continued in Belgrade.