UN tribunal withdraws indictment against former Yugoslav army commander

The United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) has withdrawn an indictment against a former Yugoslav army commander for lack of evidence. ICTY Judge Amin El Mahdi issued the order Friday to drop the charges against Milan Zec after the prosecution filed a confidential motion, which stated that further investigations revealed that the evidence at this stage was insufficient to maintain the charges. The move did not exclude the possibility of further court action against Mr. Zec on the same charges or on other charges based on supplementary evidence obtained during ongoing investigations, according to the Prosecutor’s office. In the indictment, Mr. Zec was charged on the basis of individual criminal responsibility with 16 counts of violations of the laws or customs of war. The indictment alleged that on 1 October 1991 forces of the Yugoslav Peoples’ Army (JNA) under his command and that of others launched an attack against the Dubrovnik region of Croatia from Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the Adriatic Sea. The aim of the attack was to secure control of those areas of Croatia that were intended for inclusion in the so-called “Dubrovnik Republic.” It was the objective of the JNA and the Serbian and the Montenegrin governments to detach this area from Croatia and to annex it to Serbia/Montenegro and other areas intended for Serb control in Croatia and Bosnia, the Tribunal said. In the Fall of 1991, JNA forces allegedly killed and wounded numerous civilians in and around the city of Dubrovnik through acts of unlawful shelling. Further, the forces systematically plundered public, commercial and private property in the areas surrounding Dubrovnik of which they subsequently gained control and systematically destroyed public, commercial and religious buildings, as well as private dwellings.

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