At his Hague Tribunal appeal, ex-Yugoslav Army commander Vladimir Lazarevic said he was not responsible for the deportation of Albanians from Kosovo in 1999.
Lazarevic is appealing after being sentenced in 2009 to 15 years in jail for the deportation and forcible transportation of Kosovo Albanians during the conflict in 1999.
His defence claimed at the hearing at the Hague Tribunal on Wednesday that Lazarevic, as commander of the Yugoslav Army’s Pristina corps, acted according to the law, aiming to defend his country from NATO “aggressors” and Kosovo Liberation Army “terrorists”.
Lazarevic is also accused of taking part in a joint criminal enterprise together with former Serbian strongman leader Slobodan Milosevic, former chief of staff of the Yugoslav Army Nebojsa Pavkovic, deputy prime minister of Yugoslavia Nikola Sainovic, former interior minister Sreten Lukic and former Yugoslav army general Dragoljub Ojdanic.
“Lazarevic did everything he could to punish those soldiers who committed atrocities,” the defence said.
His lawyers quoted army reports that detailed how, three months after the war, Lazarevic filed 30 criminal charges against Yugoslav Army servicemen.
The defence said the NATO bombing was the reason why Albanians left Kosovo at the time, arguing that the Yugoslav Army only provided humanitarian aid and returned displaced people to their homes.
It also quoted additional army reports in which he ordered that population that left its homes to be found and returned.
Lazerevic voluntarily surrendered to the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in 2005, after the court issued an indictment two years previously.
Ex-Yugoslav Army commander Pavkovic and ex-Yugoslav deputy prime minister Sainovic also said in their appeals that they weren’t guilty of repressing Kosovo Albanians.