Serb police general to appeal 27-year sentence

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Jailed Serbian ex-police general Vlastimir Djordjevic on Tuesday appealed a 27-year sentence for his role in a plot to terrorise Albanian citizens in Kosovo.

"The appeals chamber should enter a verdict of 'not guilty' in respect to five counts in the indictment," said a document submitted by Djordjevic's defense team to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.

Djordjevic, 62, a former assistant internal affairs minister and head of the public security department, was sentenced in February of aiding and abetting the murders of "not less than 724 Kosovo Albanians" between January and June 1999.

He was a key aide to Slobodan Milosevic, the former Yugoslav president who died in March 2006 of natural causes while on trial before the same tribunal.

The prosecution Tuesday lodged a simultaneous appeal before the Hague-based court, calling the sentence "manifestly inadequate in the light of the gravity of the crimes for which Djordjevic was convicted and his role in them."

Prosecutors accuse Djordjevic of taking part in a campaign of "ethnic cleansing" which saw Yugoslav and Serb forces expel one third of Albanians living in Kosovo, and sought a 35-year sentence against him.

He pleaded not guilty and told the court in January 2009 that the operations he oversaw were aimed against the "terrorists" of the Kosovo Liberation Army.

The court rejected this defence, saying "in the large majority of cases the victims, including women and children, were civilians who were unarmed and not in any way participating in any form of armed conflict".

© 2011 AFP

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