U.S. offers evidence to back Yugoslav war crimes charges
Milosevic 'will be brought to justice,' defense chief vows
May 28, 1999
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The U.S. government Friday offered what it said was evidence backing up war crimes charges lodged against Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic.
State Department spokesman James Rubin displayed satellite imagery he said corroborates three of the massacres listed in the indictment released Thursday by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.
He said there is also evidence that Yugoslav authorities have exhumed the bodies of Kosovar Albanians from mass graves and reburied them individually -- and that some bodies have been burned.
"What this is about is evidence that the Serbs recognize that war crimes are being committed and that there is a cover-up taking place by Serb forces to try to hide the evidence," Rubin said.
Rubin also said the U.S. government supports the belief of war crimes prosecutors that Milosevic is both politically and personally responsible for atrocities in Kosovo.
"We believe he's politically responsible, given that he is the president. We believe he's personally responsible because we do not believe he is a figurehead," Rubin said.
Cohen: No time limit on pursuing Milosevic
Defense Secretary William Cohen expressed confidence Friday that Milosevic and four other top Yugoslav officials indicted for war crimes by the U.N. tribunal will eventually face trial.
"At some point in time, (Milosevic) will be brought to justice," Cohen said.
"The purpose of the indictment is to put everyone in the world on notice that he stands accused of having committed war crimes," Cohen added. "There is no time limitation on that."
In a largely symbolic gesture, the U.S. government Friday ordered the assets of the five indicted Yugoslav leaders frozen.
While they are not believed to currently have any assets in the United States, the order by the Office of Foreign Assets Control allows the seizure of any assets that might come under U.S. jurisdiction.
U.S. officials also said they hoped the move would set an example for other countries.
In addition to Milosevic, the four other Yugoslavs covered by the freeze are Serbian President Milan Milutinovic, Yugoslav Deputy Prime Minister Nikola Sainovic, Serbian Interior Minister Vlajko Stojiljkovic and armed forces chief of staff Dragoljub Ojdanic.
Reuters contributed to this report.
Milosevic indictment makes history
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