20 April 2004
BRUSSELS – Belgium and seven other countries that took part in the Nato bombing of Kosovo in 1999 have denied accusations of genocide levelled at them by the government of Serbia and Montenegro.
Serbia-Montenegro has brought the charges to the International Criminal Court in the Hague, the United Nation’s main judicial body.
It made its original complaint in 1999 when Slobodan Milosevic was President of Serbia and Montenegro and Nato was bombing the country.
Ironically, Milosevic is now also in the Hague, where he is on trial for war crimes.
The allegations say eight Nato countries – it is not legally possible to bring a complaint against the alliance as a whole – “deliberately exposed” the people of Serbia and Montenegro to “conditions of existence that would lead to their physical destruction.”
In other words, the allegations claim Nato committed genocide.
Speaking in the Hague on Monday, Belgian lawyer Daniel Bethlehem, who will represent his country at the forthcoming trial, dismissed the genocide claims.
He said that the allegations against his country and the other Nato states were extravagant and “superficial”.
Analysts say all of the Nato countries accused by Serbia and Montenegro are likely to argue that so called ‘collateral damage’ to civilians, even when it includes accidental killings, cannot be compared to an active policy of genocide.
The Nato bombing campaign in Kosovo began on 24 March 1999 and was designed to protect ethnic Albanians from attacks by Serbian armed forces.
[Copyright Expatica 2004]
Subject: Belgian news