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Yugoslav TV chief jailed

TV station rubble
The TV station was badly damaged in the NATO airstrike and 16 people died  

BELGRADE, Yugoslavia -- The former head of Serbian TV has been jailed for failing to protect staff who were killed when NATO bombed the station's headquarters.

Dragoljub Milanovic was sentenced to nine-and-a-half years after the court ruled he had not ensured the safety of his workers even though he knew the building could be a NATO target during the 1999 air campaign.

Sixteen TV workers died in the airstrike on the TV station in central Belgrade and their relatives have accused then-President Slobodan Milosevic's regime of deliberately putting the employees in danger.

Milanovic was convicted of "provoking general danger" by failing to evacuate the building, which was hit by NATO on April 23, 1999.

Presiding judge Radmila Dragicevic-Dicic said. "He failed to act according to regulations governing the safety of RTS even though he was aware this could provoke danger for the lives of the people because NATO aggression had already started," Reuters reported.

Dragicevic-Dicic said there had been an official order from the federal defence ministry to move the broadcast operations to another location.

"It was not up to you to assess the danger, there was an order and you should have acted upon it," she said.

When she finished reading the sentence, Milanovic stood up and said he had known in advance what the verdict would be.

He repeated he was innocent and alleged documentary evidence against him had been forged

Milanovic was sentenced to an additional six months jail for an unrelated financial infraction.

In the 78-day air war launched against Yugoslavia's repression of Kosovo Albanians, NATO declared the studios of Radio Television Serbia (RTS) a legitimate target on the grounds that its broadcasts were part of Milosevic's "war machine."

Zanka Stojanovic, whose son Nebojsa died in the strike, said: "He sentenced himself when he assumed the right to decide the lives of others. He should have thought about this when he put them up for sacrifice."




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