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Yugoslav Court Suspends Extradition of Milosevic

Aired June 28, 2001 - 07:05   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BRIAN NELSON, CNN ANCHOR: We have this news just into CNN. The Yugoslav Constitutional Court has temporarily suspended a government decree allowing for the extradition of the former president, Slobodan Milosevic, to The Hague, where he may be tried on war crimes.

The court's decision ostensibly stalls the effort to extradite Milosevic, but the government says the process should go ahead. In fact, the Yugoslav government wanted to extradite Milosevic by tomorrow, in order to encourage the United States and other countries to attend a donors conference because, as the government itself says, the Yugoslav treasury is virtually bankrupt.

Now let's go for more on this to Belgrade and CNN's Alessio Vinci, who joins us by phone -- Alessio.

ALESSIO VINCI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes Brian, with an unanimous vote, within the last few minutes, the Yugoslav Constitutional Court has, indeed, ruled to temporarily suspend the decree that has paved the way for the beginning of extradition procedures for the former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic to the U.N. War Crimes Tribunal.

It is a temporary suspension, pending the Constitutional Court ruling on whether this decree is constitutional or not. In explaining its ruling, the Constitutional judges say that this does not mean that Yugoslavia is not fulfilling its international obligations or rejecting its cooperation with the U.N. War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague. It said that the big question right now is how to harmonize Yugoslavia national legislation with its international obligations.

It said that is something that will have to be discussed in the coming days and weeks, perhaps by inviting international scholars. But for the time being, the Yugoslav Constitutional Court has ruled to temporarily suspend the decree that the Yugoslav government has passed over the weekend and has paved the way for the beginning of extradition procedure of the former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic.

His lawyer, Milosevic's lawyer, Zdenko Tomanovic, coming out of the Constitutional Courtroom said this ruling was a victory for the law.

Does this mean that the actual extradition procedure of Mr. Milosevic has been suspended as well. Legally, yes. The Constitutional Court, with this ruling, has temporarily suspended that procedure, however we have heard from the Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic, yesterday, telling reporters despite what the ruling of the Constitutional Court would have been, he said that Yugoslav still must cooperate with international obligations, and therefore, it must cooperate with the U.N. War Crimes Tribunal -- and therefore, it would go ahead and continue the extradition procedure of Mr. Milosevic.

So we have here the Serbian government right now, which is meeting in an emergency session as we speak, to decide how to react to this latest ruling by the Constitutional Court. Certainly, the Yugoslav officials, those who are in favor of Mr. Milosevic's extradition, still believe that despite the ruling of the Constitutional Court, they can go ahead and proceed with its extradition. However, this ruling by the Constitutional Court obviously puts a big hurdle in front of them -- Brian.

NELSON: And a big question mark.

Thank you, CNN's Alessio Vinci, reporting to us from Belgrade.

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