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Serbia2 April 2003

Ex-head of Serbian radio and TV arrested

Dragoljub Milanovic, the former chief of Serbian radio and TV (RTS), was arrested on 2 April as part of the enquiry into the assassination of prime minister Zoran Djindjic. The government said he had been "in hiding with the help of members of the Zemun gang," an underworld group suspected of murdering Djindjic. Milanovic was sentenced to 10 years in prison on 21 June last year for not evacuating the RTS building during NATO bombing in 1999, thereby allowing 16 employees to be killed. He did not turn up at Belgrade prison to start his jail term.

21.06.2002 - Former head of Serbian radio and TV jailed for 10 years

Reporters Without Borders expressed satisfaction today at the 10-year prison sentence passed on the former head of Serbian radio and TV (RTS), Dragoljub Milanovic, for being responsible for the death of 16 of his employees killed in the 1999 NATO bombing of the station’s offices.

Judge Radmila Dragicevic-Bicic said he had "not obeyed the order to evacuate the station’s staff to temporary offices" and that he "knew the building could be a bombing target and that people would be killed." A legal enquiry was opened last 12 February in Belgrade to find out if Milanovic had been told NATO would bomb the building.

Reporters Without Borders hopes NATO will now investigate its own responsibility in the 23 April 1999 air strike during the offensive against Federal Yugoslavia during the Kosovo war.

The organisation published a report on 22 November 2000 of its own enquiry entitled "Serbian broadcasting : Chronicle of martyrdom foretold , in which it accused the heads of RTS of deliberately keeping their staff in the dark about the imminent bombing.

At the same time, the families of the victims took their case to the European Court of Human Rights and sued NATO’s 17 member-states who are also signatories of the European Convention on Human Rights (Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Turkey and the United Kingdom).

The Court rejected their suit on 19 December last year, saying Federal Yugoslavia was not under the jurisdiction of the sued states and that the Convention did not apply to extra-territorial actions by the 41 Council of Europe member-states that ratified it.

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