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Slobodan Milosevic to Stand Trial in SerbiaAired March 31, 2001 - 10:25 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
STEPHEN FRAZIER: Serbian Interior officials -- Interior Ministry officials tell CNN that police have arrested accused war criminal Slobodan Milosevic. They say the former Yugoslav president has been taken to Belgrade's central prison after a tense 24-hour stand-off with police.
CNN's Alessio Vinci joins us now with the latest on this -- Alessio.
ALESSIO VINCI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: ... of the gate of the Belgrade central prison where within the last hour or so Mr. Milosevic was brought in a convoy of five cars. According the Serbian Interior Ministry, during the arrest, Mr. Milosevic did not offer any kind of resistance. His arrest follows an intense day of negotiations between government officials and Milosevic's allies, when the span of those negotiations centered especially on the government officials trying to convince some of Milosevic's closest allies that it was better for not only for the president himself, but also for his associates and for the people here as a whole that a peaceful surrender was much better than attempting a second storm of the villa where Mr. Milosevic has been leaving for a while now.
One source within the Interior Ministry has also told us that during those negotiations, those Yugoslav officials were heavily involved in trying to really bring this stand-off to a peaceful end. We saw and we heard today from the Yugoslav president, Vojislav Kostunica, who said that he wanted at any cost avoid any bloodshed. He said that they avoided bloodshed in October during the revolt that brought Mr. Milosevic down from power, and he said that their really main task now was to bring Mr. Milosevic to justice but without any bloodshed.Mr. Kostunica saying that Mr. Milosevic was not worth any kind of bloodshed.
Attempts to arrest him 24 hours ago last night around this time, a little big earlier, were met by stiff resistance and exchange of fire. A dramatic difference this evening, 24 hours later, here in Belgrade. Back to you, Stephen.
FRAZIER: Just a final question, Alessio, before you go after a very long night on this siege. Do these latest developments mean any change in our earlier understanding that Mr. Milosevic is to face charges of abuse of power and embezzlement rather than the war criminal charges for which he was indicted by the War Crimes Tribunal? VINCI: That is correct. That is correct. Our understanding is that, actually, the Interior minister has also confirmed this several times, that Mr. Milosevic is being brought here to the Serbian -- to the Belgrade central prison on charges of corruption and abuse of power, of embezzlement, and therefore, Mr. Milosevic will likely, eventually, if charged with those crimes, will be facing a trial here in Serbia first.
The international community and especially the United States have pressured Belgrade authorities to cooperate with The Hague tribunal. That cooperation has already started. There is a bureau -- an office of the International War Crimes Tribunal opened here in Belgrade, and certainly, this arrest today is another step toward the continuation of that cooperation. And once Mr. Milosevic is tried here in Serbia, many Yugoslav officials do not rule out eventually a trial of war crimes either partially here or even at the International War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague.
But for now, Mr. Milosevic is most likely to face trial here in Belgrade.
FRAZIER: Alessio, thank you. CNN's Alessio Vinci in Belgrade.
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