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This Day in History

World History

Tuesday, February 12, 2002. :   The war crimes trial of former Yugoslav president, Slobodan Miloševic, begins.

     Slobodan Miloševic, born 20 August 1941, was the President of Serbia and of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia during a time of growing nationalism. Communist governments throughout eastern Europe had collapsed in the early 1990s, and many smaller countries which had been incorporated into Yugoslavia were demanding their autonomy. Whilst Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia and Slovenia embraced their independence, Serbia and Montenegro chose to stay on in the federation.

As a fiercely nationalistic Serb, Miloševic's aggressive attacks on ethnic Albanians in the province of Kosovo, during which over half of the province's Albanian population fled and several thousand people died. A NATO campaign of air strikes (Operation Allied Force) eventually forced Miloševic to back down.

In June 2001, Miloševic was handed over to the United Nations War Crimes Tribunal and taken to The Hague to be tried for war crimes allegedly committed during his rule. On 30 August 2001, Miloševic was told he would be charged with genocide, the most serious of all war crimes. Later, the original charges of war crimes in Kosovo were upgraded by adding charges of genocide in Bosnia and war crimes in Croatia. His trial began at The Hague on 12 February 2002, with Miloševic defending himself while refusing to recognise the legality of the court's jurisdiction.

Miloševic was found dead in his cell on 11 March 2006 in the UN war crimes tribunal's detention centre in The Hague.

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