22 Feb 11

Belgrade Denies Serbian Planes Bombed Libya Protesters

Serbia's defence minister dismisses claim of Serbian link with Libya protests as ‘total stupidity’.

Pedja Obradovic
Belgrade

Serbia’s minister of defence, Dragan Sutanovac, has dismissed that  Serbian planes were part of military forces alleged to have bombed protesters in Libya.

Asked in parliament on Tuesday whether “Serbian airplanes are involved in the bombing of Tripoli, Sutanovac replied that the reports were “total stupidity, and there are no Serbian airplanes” in Libya, Belgrade’s B92 reported.

Speaking on BBC’s flagship 1pm news show on Tuesday, “World At One” African expert Francis Ghiles, from the Barcelona Centre for International Affairs, told BBC anchor Martha Kearney that the Libyan dictator had a history of using foreign mercenaries against his own people as he did not trust his own military.

Muammar Gaddafi had used both Algerian pilots and Serbs loaned by Slobodan Milosevic’s regime in the 1990s to bomb rebel positions, and may well have done the same this time round, Ghiles said.

People should not “forget that there many Serbs in Tripoli and that they are certainly very loyal to Gaddafi”, Ghiles said.

In Belgrade, no one from Serbia’s defence ministry was available for official comment on the claim. Military sources told Balkan Insight, that they have no knowledge of any Serbian military presence in Libya.

Military expert Aleksandar Radic said: “I know no one who went there and stayed there”.

Radic said it was well known that the Yugoslav Peoples Army, JNA, provided a training programme for the Libyan Air Force in the Seventies but this ended in the mid-1980s.

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