Former Serbian leader acquitted of war crime charges
Milan Milutinovic, the President of Serbia from 1998 to 2002, has been cleared of all charges laid against him by the UN International Criminal Tribunal. At the end of his presidential term in 2002, Milutinovic was charged with war crimes, including deportation, murder as a crime against humanity, murder as violation of laws or customs of war and "other inhumane acts" during war in Kosovo. Milutinovic came into power immediately after the now infamous Slobodan Milosevic, who was also prosecuted for war crimes and died in Hague in 2006 before verdict was announced. Although Milutinovic was the Serbian leader at the time of war in Kosovo, he was regarded by the Tribunal as a nominal figure with little real control over military forces. Five other high-profile Serbian officials were found guilty of war crime charges and received lengthy sentences.
Five former top Serbian officials were found guilty on some or all the charges relating to the 1990s conflict. Their sentences range from 15 to 22 years.
It was the court's first ruling on alleged crimes by Serbian forces in the Kosovo conflict.
Mr Milutinovic was seen largely as a figurehead president during that time.
The court found that the 66-year-old, who led Serbia from December 1997 to December 2002, had no direct control over the Yugoslav army.
Ex-Yugoslav deputy prime minister Nikola Sainovic, ex-Yugoslav army generals Nebojsa Pavkovic and Vladimir Lazarevic, and former Serbian police public security service chief Sreten Lukic were found guilty on all counts and were each sentenced to 22 years in jail.
Former Yugoslav army chief of staff and defence minister Dragoljub Ojdanic and ex-Yugoslav army general Vladimir Lazarevic were found guilty of deportation and forcible transfer and sentenced to 15 years in jail.
Prosecutors at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) had accused them of participating "in an alleged campaign of terror and violence directed against Kosovo Albanians and other non-Serbs in Kosovo during 1999".
"The crimes... include the deportation and forcible transfer of several hundred thousand people, as well as the murder and persecution of thousands of Kosovo Albanians," the court said in a statement.
At the time of the conflict in Kosovo, real power lay in the hands of Mr Milutinovic's mentor, Slobodan Milosevic.
During the trial, which began in July 2006, UN prosecutors called 113 witnesses to testify against them, while defence lawyers called 118.
"The trial chamber finds you (Milutinovic) not guilty of counts one to five of the indictment," Iain Bonomy, the court's judge, said, and ordered him to be released from detention.
Bonomy said it was Slobodan Milosevic, the former Yugoslav president, who was the most powerful commander of Serb troops and military police, who carried out a campaign of murder, rape and deportations in Kosovo.
"In practice, it was Milosevic, sometimes termed the 'Supreme Commander' who exercised actual command authority over the (Serb army) during the Nato campaign,'' the judge said.