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Timeline: The Milosevic years


THE HAGUE, Netherlands -- Slobodan Milosevic is on trial at the U.N. war crimes tribunal in The Hague on charges of masterminding ethnic cleansing in the former Yugoslavia.

The following is a chronology of events from his rise to power in Yugoslavia in the late 1980s to the opening of his trial:


December 9, 1990 -- Milosevic elected president in Serbia's first multi-party election since World War II.

June 25, 1991 -- Croatia and Slovenia proclaim independence.

June 1991 -- Yugoslav tanks fail to crush Slovenian independence. Fighting begins in Croatia between Croats and ethnic Serbs.

December 19, 1991 -- Rebel Serbs declare independence in Krajina region which makes up almost a third of Croatia.

December 1991 -- In Bosnia, the most ethnically mixed Yugoslav republic, Serb minority holds unofficial referendum opposing separation from Yugoslavia. Local Serb leaders proclaim new republic separate from Bosnia.

January 1992 -- U.N. forces enter Croatia and fighting subsides.

February 29 -- March 1, 1991 -- Bosnia's Muslims and Croats vote for independence in referendum boycotted by Serbs.

April 6, 1991 -- War breaks out between Bosnian government and local Serbs, who start 1992-1995 siege of capital Sarajevo.

January 1993 -- Bosnia peace efforts fail, war breaks out between Muslims and Croats, previously allied against Serbs.

1995 -- Two major thrusts by Croatian forces recover most of Serb-held territory and 150,000 Serbs flee to Serbia.

November 21, 1995 -- Following NATO air strikes against Bosnian Serbs, Milosevic joins presidents of Bosnia and Croatia in peace agreement at U.S.-sponsored talks at Dayton, Ohio.

July 15, 1997 -- Milosevic elected Yugoslav president by federal parliament, steps down as Serbian president after serving maximum two terms.

March 1998 -- Milosevic rejects calls for international action in Kosovo.

September 24, 1998 -- NATO issues ultimatum to Milosevic to stop crackdown on Kosovo Albanians or face air strikes.


March 18-19 -- Kosovo Albanians sign peace deal in France but Yugoslavia rejects it. Peace talks break up in failure.

March 24 -- NATO warplanes begin air campaign against targets throughout Yugoslavia.

May 27 -- U.N. war crimes tribunal confirms it has indicted Milosevic as war criminal.

June 10 -- NATO suspends its bombing campaign after Serb troops begin to withdraw from Kosovo.


July 27 -- Milosevic sets elections for September 24.

September 26 -- Federal elections commission says opposition candidate Vojislav Kostunica won by 48.22 percent to 40.23, calls a second round since neither won an absolute majority. Kostunica camp cries fraud, rejects result.

September 29 -- The opposition begins campaign of strikes and civil disobedience to force Milosevic to step down

October 5 -- Huge opposition rally in front of Yugoslav parliament. Protesters storm the building and set it on fire.

October 6 -- Milosevic concedes defeat in the election.

October 7 -- Kostunica sworn in as new Yugoslav president.


February 1 -- Serbian Interior Minister Dusan Mihajlovic says Milosevic placed under round-the-clock police surveillance.

February 28 -- Serbian prosecutors ask police to look into media allegations that Milosevic sold state gold abroad and stashed the proceeds in the bank accounts of foreign companies.

March 31 -- Authorities try to arrest Milosevic. Commandos storm his compound and wage a gunbattle with his guards.

April 1 -- Milosevic is arrested after a 36-hour standoff. He pleads not guilty to charges of diverting state funds and is remanded in custody for a 30-day investigation period.

April 2 -- U.N. chief prosecutor Carla Del Ponte says she has drawn up second arrest warrant for Milosevic for crimes in Bosnia. Milosevic denies he stole government money to enrich himself or finance political crimes, but acknowledges his regime secretly funded armed breakaway Serb forces.

May 25 -- Serbian police accuse Milosevic and close aides of covering up evidence of possible war crimes against civilians during military crackdown in Kosovo in the late 1990s.

June 23 -- Under Western pressure ahead of a June 29 donors conference, reformist ministers in the Yugoslav government push through decree paving way for the transfer of war crimes suspects such as Milosevic to the U.N. tribunal.

June 28 -- Milosevic handed over to The Hague tribunal before a Constitutional Court decision on legality of government decree can come into effect.

June 29 -- Milosevic arrives at tribunal's detention centre.

July 3 -- Milosevic makes a defiant appearance at the war crimes tribunal in The Hague and says it is an "illegal" body set up by his Western enemies. He refuses to enter a plea, which the tribunal chairman treats as not guilty.

August 30 -- Milosevic takes a combative stance at his second appearance before the U.N. court, prompting judges to cut off his tirade against the "illegal" tribunal. The court also orders that a lawyer be appointed to act on his behalf.

September 27 -- U.N. chief prosecutor Carla Del Ponte signs a new indictment against Milosevic for war crimes in Croatia.

October 9 -- The U.N. war crimes tribunal says it has confirmed a new indictment against Milosevic for forcibly removing non-Serb populations from Croatia in 1991-1992.

October 29 -- Milosevic makes his third pre-trial appearance at the U.N. war crimes court, refusing to plead.

November 23 -- The U.N. war crimes tribunal charges Milosevic with responsibility for Serb atrocities in the 1992-95 Bosnian war in its third and gravest indictment yet.

December 11 -- Milosevic refuses to plead to charges of orchestrating genocide by Serb forces in the 1992-95 Bosnian war, deriding the indictment as a "supreme absurdity."


February 12 -- Milosevic trial opens as prosecution presents its case against the former Yugoslav leader. U.N. chief prosecutor Carla Del Ponte accuses Milosevic of being "responsible for the worst crimes known to humankind."

February 13 -- Milosevic uses his first opportunity to address his war crimes trial to accuse prosecutors of mounting a "lynching," telling the court he wants a response to his longstanding questions on "the very legality of this tribunal."

February 14-15 -- In his opening testimony before the war crimes tribunal, Milosevic largely ignores the case against him, instead outlining his own argument against NATO and the U.S. government. He accuses NATO of genocide and deliberately bombing civilians, and says he intends to call world leaders as witnesses, including U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and former U.S. President Bill Clinton. He also shows a string of graphic photographs, including the impact of NATO bombing on an Albanian refugee convoy.

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