1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

The Charges Against Slobodan Milosevic

DW staff / AFP (jam)March 11, 2006

Former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic, who was found dead Saturday in his cell at the UN detention unit near the Hague, had been on trial before the UN war crimes court since February 2002.

Former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic before the UN war crimes tribunal in 2001Image: AP

Here is an overview of the charges he faced for allegedly masterminding the wars in Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo that tore apart the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s.

Croatia (1991-1995)

Milosevic was charged with 10 counts of crimes against humanity including persecution, extermination, torture and inhumane acts during the war in Croatia which left more than 25,000 people dead.

He was also accused over the deportation of at least 170,000 Croats and other non-Serbs and the unlawful confinement of thousands in inhumane conditions.

The indictment named more than 700 people who were killed from the Krajina region, eastern and western Slavonia and during the 1991 attack on Vukovar hospital.

After Serb forces took control of Vukovar in November 1991, they took 255 Croat and non-Serb patients from the hospital and allegedly "beat and tortured the victims for hours". Eventually all were shot and killed on a remote farm and buried in a mass grave.

Milosevic also faced 22 counts of war crimes related to the same atrocities.

Bosnia (1992-1995)

Milosevic faced two counts of genocide and complicity in genocide, the gravest of war crimes, for the 1995 Serb massacre of more than 7,000 Muslim boys and men at Srebrenica and the detention of thousands of Bosnian Muslims and Croats in camps in inhumane conditions.

He was further charged with 27 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity including persecution, murder and torture.

The Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in December 1948, defines genocide as "acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group."

The genocide charge specifically listed "the widespread killing of thousands of Bosnian Muslims during and after the take-over of territories", specifically naming the 1995 massacre of Srebrenica, the only period in the Balkan wars officially ruled to constitute genocide by the UN court.

Milosevic was also cited for the killing of thousands of non-Serbs in detention camps, such as the infamous Omarska and Keraterm camps in northwestern Bosnia.

The indictment listed more than 9,000 dead and stated that the former president participated in a "joint criminal enterprise", the purpose of which was the "forcible and permanent removal of the majority of non-Serbs" from certain areas in Bosnia.

In all more than 200,000 people were killed during the Bosnian war.

Kosovo (1998-1999)

Milosevic, together with four of his allies in a "joint criminal enterprise", was accused of having "planned, instigated, ordered, committed or otherwise aided and abetted in a deliberate and widespread or systematic campaign of terror and violence directed at Kosovo Albanian civilians."

There were four charges of crimes against humanity and one of war crimes against Milosevic, including deportation, forcible transfer, murder and persecutions on political, racial and religious grounds.

In 1998-1999 the Yugoslav government cracked down on ethnic Albanians living in the Serbian province of Kosovo. During the conflict more than 10,000 people lost their lives.

The prosecution alleged that Milosevic, Yugoslav president at the time, was individually responsible for "the campaign of terror and violence directed at Kosovo Albanian civilians" and also had superior responsibility for the acts of his subordinates.

By June 1999, approximately 800,000 Kosovo Albanians, or about a third of the entire Kosovo Albanian population, had been expelled from Kosovo. The indictment listed 900 known dead, killed in separate incidents or mass killings such as the January 1999 massacre in Racak which cost 45 lives.