Serbian police chief jailed over Kosovo murders

Vlastimir Djordjevic at The Hague (19 Jun 2007) The court ruled the murder charges were examples and "by no means exhaustive"

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A former Serbian chief of police has been jailed for 27 years for his role in the murder of more than 700 ethnic Albanians in Kosovo in 1999.

The UN tribunal at The Hague found Vlastimir Djordjevic guilty of five counts of crimes against humanity, including murder and deportation.

His actions had "contributed significantly" to the "campaign of terror" against Kosovans, it ruled.

Djordjevic had said he was not guilty as he had no control over Serb forces.

He had claimed: "I did not have reason to know that my subordinates committed widespread crimes against the Albanian population."

But Judge Kevin Parker of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) rejected the defence, saying his "participation in the joint criminal enterprise was crucial to its success".

"The Chamber is satisfied that the accused's conduct contributed significantly to campaign of terror and extreme violence by Serbian forces against Kosovo Albanians, which had a purpose of changing the demographic composition of Kosovo," the judge said.

Burials hidden

Djordjevic, now 62, had aided and abetted the murder of "not less than 724 Kosovo Albanians" between January and June 1999, the court ruled.

"In the large majority of cases the victims, including many women and children, were civilians, who were unarmed and not in any way participating in any form of armed conflict."

The court stressed that the number of murder charges were only examples and were "by no means exhaustive".

He was also found to be responsible for the deportations of at least another 200,000, but this was described as a "very conservative" estimate.

He also played a "key role" in covering up the killings by transporting the bodies to Serbia for burial in mass graves.

Djordjevic, who was a close aide to the late Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, is the sixth person to be convicted at the ICTY over the violence in Kosovo.

The court is due to end its proceedings next year.

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