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Yugoslavia Confirms Extradition of Milosevic

Aired June 28, 2001 - 13:20   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: Again, CNN has confirmed an earlier report, the government of Yugoslavia now confirming that former dictator Slobodan Milosevic is being transferred from Belgrade to the Hague in the Netherlands to face a U.N. war crimes tribunal. Alessio Vinci is in Belgrade keeping close watch on this story today.

Alessio, what do we know?

ALESSIO VINCI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Lou, the Serbian government has just ended a press conference in which they announced that the former president of Yugoslavia, Slobodan Milosevic, has, indeed, been transferred to the U.N. war crimes tribunal in the Hague. What we don't know at this point is whether Mr. Milosevic has already left his prison or left at all the territory of Yugoslavia. But what we know, what we have been able to confirm is that, indeed, Mr. Milosevic has been handed over to the U.N. war crimes tribunal in the Hague.

This decision comes only a few hours after the Yugoslav constitutional court had ruled that a decree passed by the Yugoslav government had to be temporarily suspended, pending whether the decree was constitutional. Mr. Djindjic told reporters that the decree that was, that the ruling on the decree by the constitutional court was "worthless" because it was passed by the -- by judges that were appointed by the parliament which was controlled by the Yugoslav, former Yugoslav president, Slobodan Milosevic, and therefore their ruling on the suspension of the decree could not be taken seriously.

Once again, the Serbian government confirming that the former Yugoslav president, Slobodan Milosevic, is on his way to the Hague -- back to you, Lou.

WATERS: This is a first, Alessio, a former world leader being taken to the Hague. Do you have any details about what happens now? Does he go to a prison cell in the Hague? What is the process here?

VINCI: Well, my understanding now is that the Serbian government is in charge of actually organizing the transfer of Mr. Milosevic from the prison to the Hague. As I told you, we are not in a position to find out if Mr. Milosevic is already in transit here, if he has already left Yugoslavia and whether he is physically on his way to the Hague. What we know is that he is in the hands of the U.N. war crimes tribunal, but right now it is up to the Serbian government to organize the transfer. I understand that Mr. Milosevic has already a cell prepared for him at the Hague. The chief prosecutor of the U.N. war crimes tribunal, Carla del Ponte, has been saying all along that she was ready to go to trial as soon as she would have Mr. Milosevic in the Hague. However, now that Mr. Milosevic is likely to arrive there within the next few hours or so the Hague prosecutors will have to hand over their evidence to the attorneys, to the lawyers who will defend Mr. Milosevic and they will have to present their, prepare their defense. Therefore it is unlikely that Mr. Milosevic's trial in the Hague will begin any time soon -- Back to you, Lou.

WATERS: All right, Alessio Vinci in Belgrade, reporting on fast moving events in the Balkans and in the Netherlands, as the former president of Yugoslavia is being turned over to the Hague in the Netherlands to face those U.N. war crimes that he's been charged with. Already a reaction from the Hague by the spokesman for the high crimes tribunal. "The message is very clear. No individual is above the law no matter what position they held in the past." This is a fast breaking story. We'll have more information as soon as it becomes available.

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