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Yugoslav Leader Acknowledges Genocide in Kosovo

October 24, 2000|From Times Wire Services

Yugoslavia's new president, Vojislav Kostunica, has acknowledged that Yugoslav security forces committed genocide in Kosovo and said he is ready to take responsibility for crimes committed by his predecessor, Slobodan Milosevic.

Milosevic, who has been indicted by a war crimes tribunal in The Hague, was forced by a mass uprising this month to admit defeat in September presidential elections.

Kosovo legally remains a province of Serbia, Yugoslavia's main republic, but it has been run as a de facto international protectorate since June 1999.

In an interview with CBS' "60 Minutes II," released Monday and to be aired today, Kostunica was asked if the Yugoslav army and police were guilty of genocide in Kosovo.

"Those are the crimes, and the people that have been killed are victims," the president said, adding: "I must say also there are a lot of crimes on the other side, and the Serbs have been killed.

"I am ready to--how to say--to accept the guilt for all those people who have been killed, so I'm trying to, taking responsibility for what happened on my part. For what Milosevic had done and as a Serb, I will take responsibility for many of these, these crimes."

On whether Milosevic would stand trial somewhere, Kostunica replied: "Yes, somewhere." Asked about Serbian crimes against humanity, he said Milosevic was "among those responsible."

Meanwhile, Milosevic's party bowed Monday to pro-democracy demands concerning the makeup of an interim government in Serbia, but the deal hit another snag when ultranationalists tried to block approval.

After Milosevic's party agreed to accept pro-democracy candidates for leadership positions, Serbia's parliament met to approve the transition government and set Dec. 23 as the date for elections. But the Serbian Radical Party filibustered, appealing to Milosevic's Socialist Party of Serbia not to accept the plans.

The filibuster forced parliament to adjourn until today without approving the new administration.

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