Belgrade submits accusation vs. Nato in World Court

BELGRADE, Jan 5, 2000 -- (Reuters) Yugoslavia submitted a formal statement of accusation to the World Court on Tuesday to support its suit against NATO countries that took part in air strikes against Yugoslavia last year, the state news agency Tanjug said.

Yugoslavia filed its suit against 10 NATO countries last April, in the middle of NATO's air campaign to drive Serb forces out of Kosovo.

"Yugoslavia demands that the court declare these countries responsible for the violation of major international obligations which ban the use of force against countries, interference in their internal affairs or the violation of their sovereignty, as well as other international obligations," Tanjug said.

In June the United Nations' top court, formally the International Court of Justice, rejected a request for an interim ruling ordering the bombing to stop and threw out the cases against the United States and Spain on a technicality.

But the court, based in the Hague, said it would hear the case against the other eight countries, which Yugoslavia is suing under the U.N. charter, the Geneva Conventions and the Genocide Convention. It asked Yugoslavia for a written submission by January 5 and said the accused countries would have until July 5 to submit counter-arguments - routine procedure in World Court cases.

Tanjug said the latest submission included a new charge related to a wave of revenge attacks by Kosovo's Albanian majority against Serbs who they say submitted them to a decade of repression and played a major role in a campaign of terror.

"The indictment also included a demand to confirm the responsibility of these countries for their failure to prevent the genocide of the Serb people and other non-Albanians in Kosovo and Metohija," Tanjug said.

It said Yugoslavia was demanding compensation for the damage done by the air strikes.

The NATO states concerned said at the time their action was justified by what they said was Belgrade's ethnic cleansing of Kosovo's majority ethnic Albanian population, and that its charge of genocide was extremely cynical in that light.

The countries being sued are Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, Portugal, the Netherlands and Canada.

A final ruling could take years.

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