Assault on the Serbs: US `will use war crime body'

Genocide Trials
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The Independent Online
THE UNITED States said it was collecting evidence to support the prosecution of Serbian military commanders for war crimes. The warning followed two days in which Washington appeared to play down reports that the killings in Kosovo had increased in response to Nato air attacks and insisted that it had anticipated the possibility of more violence.

The State Department spokesman, James Rubin, confirmed reports of "an escalating pattern of Serbian attacks on Kosovo Albanian civilians". He noted that the US was monitoring the situation with "national technical means"- spy satellites.

"Commanding officers and political leaders can be held responsible for the actions of their subordinates," he said. The US would continue to work with Louise Arbour, the United Nations chief war crimes prosecutor at The Hague, "to assist her efforts to prosecute anyone responsible for ordering and carrying out war crimes, crimes against humanity, or genocide in Kosovo".

The warning came as the US extended its defence of Nato intervention by beaming televised appeals from President Bill Clinton and the Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, into the countries of the region, and Russia. The address excoriated the Yugoslav President, Slobodan Milosevic.

In his address, which was broadcast three times and dubbed into Serbo- Croat and Russian, Mr Clinton said that the agreement reached at Rambouillet, which had been accepted by the Kosovars, required the demilitarisation of their forces as well as the presence of Nato peace-keepers. "Now, I know the Serb government and many Serbian people may not see Nato that way," he went on. "Nevertheless, I want you to understand that Nato only agreed to be peace- keepers on the understanding that its troops would ... protect Serbs as well as ethnic Albanians and that they would leave when peace took hold."

Mary Dejevsky