(2 of 2)
Unlike the hundreds of thousands who died in the Balkan wars, Milosevic can expect a fair trial. This week he is expected to plead not guilty to charges ranging from crimes against humanity to violations of the laws or customs of war. Specifically, prosecutors intend to link him through the chain of command to atrocities committed in Kosovo in 1999, including the murder of more than 600 civilians by Serbian security forces. Prosecutors are also looking to expand the charges to cover other crimes, including ones committed from 1991 to 1995, during the Croatian and Bosnian wars. Though U.N. lawyers will not discuss details of the indictment and the chain of command is more difficult to establish in Bosnia, charges could include Milosevic's complicity in the 1995 massacre of more than 7,000 Muslims in Srebrenica. His lawyers dismiss the case as a form of victors' justice. "The charges are political, so his defense will be political," says a lawyer, Branimir Gugl.
Six months ago, none of this seemed possible. Shortly after taking office, Kostunica said that transferring Milosevic was not "a priority" and that, in any event, the court in the Hague was biased against Serbs. Most Serbs seemed to share that view, believing if Milosevic was tried anywhere, it should be in Belgrade, for corruption. But U.S. and European officials consistently linked their financial aid to cooperation with the court. And over the past two months, the Interior Ministry has revealed the existence of three mass graves filled with victims of the Kosovo war. The latest, uncovered the day Milosevic was arrested, contained the bodies of nine children. For Serbs, who had been sheltered from reports of such atrocities, the news hit home. "I don't care if he stole money, and I don't care if he was abusing power," said Vojin Savic, a taxi driver in Belgrade. "He killed innocent people, and he should be tried for that."
Fine words, yet the linkage between Milosevic's extradition and financial aid to Serbia troubled some. "Of course, the money is important," said Latinka Perovic, a Belgrade historian. "But we have a moral duty to do away with the culture of killing, and I have heard precious little about that in the last few weeks."
In Brussels last Friday, as Milosevic went through medical checks in the Hague, Yugoslav Deputy Prime Minister Miroljub Labus was blunt. "We did it," he told the donors' conference. "Now it's your turn." The assembled governments responded with pledges of almost $1.3 billion in aid. Whether such a price was worth the incarceration of Milosevic is a question that only the shades of his victims are entitled to answer.
--With reporting by Dejan Anastasijevic and Duska Anastasijevic/Belgrade, Jay Branegan/Washington and Lauren Comiteau/the Hague