Serbia 'to indict' Kosovo leaders over independence

Serbia on Monday said it has moved to "criminally indict" top Kosovo leaders who a day earlier proclaimed independence.

Serbia 'to indict' Kosovo leaders over independence
The Interior Ministry in Belgrade said in a statement that it has launched proceedings to" indict" Kosovo's Prime Minister Hashim Thaci, President Fatmir Sejdiu and assembly speaker Jakup Krasniqi for "declaring a false state on the territory of Serbia."

The Kosovo parliament on Sunday unanimously declared independence from Serbia and was now looking to the United States and European Union for recognition and support.

Serbia, backed by Russia, last week declared any acts against its sovereignty illegal, and "annulled" them in advance. The parliament in Belgrade was due to affirm the position on Monday.

The three Kosovo politicians committed a "grave criminal act aimed against the constitutional order and security of Serbia," the ministry said.

Serbia has tried and convicted hundreds of majority Kosovo Albanians as "terrorists" during the 1998-1999 conflict in the province.

Effectively political prisoners, virtually all were eventually released and returned home, their sentences reduced to time served.

Thaci already has a sentence condemning him to 10 years in prison and an international arrest warrant from Serbia for the killing of three police officers in Kosovo in 1993.

In 2003, while still an opposition leader, Thaci was briefly detained by Hungary on the Serbian warrant, but was released quickly after an intervention by the United Nations.

Serbian justice has also convicted top Western politicians to 20 years over their role in the NATO intervention against Yugoslavia that ended the Kosovo war by ousting Belgrade's security forces from the province.

Among the 14 leaders sentenced in September 2000 by a court ruled by Slobodan MIlosevic's regime were US President Bill Clinton, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and French President Jacques Chirac.

The then NATO chief, now EU's top diplomat Javier Solana, was also sentenced to prison, but the arrest warrant against him was not activated when he visited Belgrade months after the verdict and Milosevic' fall.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 19 Şubat 2008, 00:56