Army chief sues NGO head over war crimes allegations
BELGRADE -- Serbian Army (VS) Chief of the General Staff Gen. Ljubiša Diković has filed a lawsuit against Nataša Kandić, who heads the Humanitarian Law Center (FHP).
Ljubiša Diković (file)
Ljubiša Diković (file)
The general's decision to go to court came after Kandić's NGO accused him of being responsible for war crimes committed in Kosovo in 1998 and 1999, in what was described as his "zone of responsibility".
The Belgrade-based Danas newspaper writes that the libel lawsuit was filed at the First Basic Court in Belgrade.

This came after a "dossier of seven points" was published by the FHP in January.

The dossier alleges that the 37th Motorized Brigade of the Yugoslav Army (VS), commanded by Diković - "and which Slobodan Milošević decorated with the Medal of the People's Hero" - killed civilians, and committed rape, harassment and beatings.

In the wake of the publishing of the accusations against him, both Diković and Defense Minister Dragan Šutanovac said the allegations were "completely false". Šutanovac also stated that Diković was "not in western Serbia in 1994 and 1995, while in 1998 he was not deployed in Kosovo and Metohija".

The general also reacted by stating that Kandić's organization was targeting the army, and his office at the helm of it, and described as "paradoxical" the assertion that he was to blame for the deaths of soldiers who died in their country in 1999 - "rather than the (ethnic Albanian) terrorist organization that carried out attacks and murdered people".

In January, the FHP found Diković "unfit" to head the army, and called on the authorities "to submit facts to the president of Serbia about the actions of the former commander of the 37th Motorized Brigade during the war, as well as the Hague Tribunal's evidence about war crimes committed in the zone of responsibility of wartime commander Diković".

The NGO also stated that the ruling in the case of Milan Milutinović and testimonies of the victims who survived in Drenica given to the Hague, and to the FHP, as well as the Hague's documents found in its public database, showed that numerous, serious and mass war crimes happened against ethnic Albanian civilians in the area.

Kandić's organization also accused Diković of "failing to prevent war crimes committed by members of the army and police during NATO's bombing".

The War Crimes Prosecution reacted by stating that there was no reason to suspect Diković had criminal responsibility for war crimes, and that this was determined after checking the "dossier" submitted by the FHP.