Once started, events move with surprising rapidity in Serbia. Six months ago few people would have thought that Slobodan Milosevic could be toppled from power, arrested and put in jail pending trial. Not only have these things happened, but they have taken place with due democratic and legal process. It is for this reason that the West should be careful about pressuring President Kostunica of Yugoslavia and Prime Minister Djindjic of Serbia to hand Milosevic over immediately to the War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague. The timing for this should be a decision primarily for the Yugoslavian and Serbian governments. It has to be kept in mind that although Serbia has made the transition to democracy relatively painlessly, there remain many tensions below the surface which any public trial of Milosevic, for whatever crime, will bring into the open; many people who supported him in the past still hold prominent positions. His trial, whether in Belgrade or The Hague, could be a trigger for renewed destablisation of this still fragile area, which is the last thing the West wants.

Eventually Milosevic must face accusations of crimes against humanity at the international War Crimes Tribunal. In the interests of a Greater Serbia he was directly responsible for fomenting fighting between Serbs, Croats and Muslims which led to the death of at least 200'000 people and appalling suffering for many others. He also threatened the ethnic Albanians in Kosovo in such a way as to make necessary NATO's successful intervention. This man cannot be allowed to avoid answering in a court of law for his misdeeds but he is still only 59 years old and there is plenty of time to bring him to justice on all counts.

Ray Fleming


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