CEOL
YU army strips critical colonel of rank

BELGRADE, Jul 13, 2000 -- (Reuters) A Yugoslav army disciplinary court on Wednesday stripped a reserve officer of his rank for allegedly revealing details of a secret operation aimed at stifling last year's uprising of ethnic Albanians in Kosovo.

Reserve Colonel Dragan Vuksic, 54, was stripped of his rank for "inflicting damage to the reputation of the state and the honor and reputation of the army."

Vuksic was said to have told an international expert meeting in Vienna last March of a secret operation codenamed "Horseshoe" designed to prevent the uprising and change the ethnic structure in Serbia's southern province.

Kosovo is now under de facto international rule after Yugoslav forces withdrew from the southern province following NATO's March-to-June bombing campaign last year to halt Belgrade's repression of the ethnic Albanian majority.

Vuksic's remarks, originally carried by an Austrian daily, were picked up by Belgrade media and used by the court as evidence and basis for the disciplinary action.

Vuksic is a member of the opposition Movement for a Democratic Serbia (PDS) led by former Yugoslav army chief-of-staff Momcilo Perisic, fired in 1998 over disagreements about military policy in Kosovo.

Perisic was stripped of his rank last month by another army court for "grossly ignoring a reserve officer's duties and commitments."



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