News 29 Mar 12

RTS Bombing: EU Demands an Investigation

EU Rapporteur for Serbia requests an investigation into NATO bombing of the Serbian broadcaster, RTS, claiming that all crucial documents are within the Serbian Ministry of Defence.

Marija Ristic
BIRN
Belgrade

Jelko Kacin, the European Parliament Rapporteur on Serbia, said on Wednesday that the missing documents, identifying those members of the Serbian authorities that knew that the bombing of RTS would take place, are in the archives of the Serbian Ministry of Defence.

“The first place to look for all the documents relating to the deaths of the 16 RTS employees on April 23, 1999, is the Ministry of Defence of Serbia. These documents are the result of the investigation carried out by officers of the Yugoslav Army and as such they are kept in the ministry’s archives,” said Kacin.

“It is hard to believe that the Ministry of Defence would have forwarded those documents to NATO and the EU,” explained Kacin to Radio Free Europe.

Kacin was responding to an open letter from the Serbian Minister of Defence Dragan Sutanovac.

In the letter, Sutanovac asked Kacin to use his diplomatic connections to locate the missing documents.

“Your contacts in the EU and NATO can help us to close this chapter once and for all, by providing us with documents that prove that there was no possibility of forewarning people of the attack,” said Sutanovac in his open letter to Kacin.

The reason for the public debate between the EU Rapporteur for Serbia and the Defence Minister is a recent letter, that has not been made public, in which Kacin demands that Serbia carries out a serious investigation into the part played by the Serbian authorities in relation to the RTS bombing.

During the NATO attack on RTS on April 23 in 1999, 16 employees were killed.  

Dragoljub Milanovic, the former head of RTS, was sentenced to 10 years in jail in 2002 for not protecting his employees during the NATO bombing, the only person to have been convicted so far.

The families of the victims, however, claim that the high level officials within the Serbian government and army knew that the bombing would take place and that they left the workers on purpose within the building in order to claim that NATO is targeting civilians.

Zanka Stojanovic, the mother of one of the victims, says that there are transcripts that show that authorities knew in advance that NATO would bomb the RTS building and that the army bears the responsibility.

Two NGOs, the Centre for Euro-Atlantic studies and the Lawyers’ Committee for Human Rights, YUKOM, who are representing the victims in this case, said that they have asked to see these transcripts several times on the basis of the Law on Freedom of Information, but they never received a response from the authorities.

“So far the prosecutor has not examined any witness or potential suspect in this case, while the government bodies that possess evidence of the army’s involvement refuse to submit it to the court,” explained the Lawyers’ Committee for Human Rights.

Following a meeting last Friday with the families of the victims and their legal representatives, the prosecution has announced that they will open a new investigation.

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