I.P.O. Information Service

  Extradition of former Yugoslav President Milošević

Violation of international law and of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia

Vienna, 1 July 2001

In an exclusive interview for the German daily Junge Welt (Berlin), the President of the International Progress Organization, Professor Hans Koechler, strongly condemned the extradition of former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milošević to the so-called "International War Crimes Tribunal" in The Hague.

Professor Koechler described the extradition – which was carried out without the knowledge of the President of Yugoslavia and against an express order of the Constitutional Court of Yugoslavia – as an act of piracy committed by NATO forces (in collusion with the administration of Mr. Zoran Djindjić) via the NATO airbase at Tuzla.

By this action, Mr. Djindjić has put himself and his administration not only outside the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia; by “selling” the former Head of State on the eve of the so-called “donors conference” for Yugoslavia he has committed an unprecedented act of humiliation of an entire nation. Whether he has committed an act of high treason will have to be judged by the competent authorities of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

The extradition of former President Milošević was not only illegal in terms of the Yugoslav Constitution – insofar as it occurred in violation of a ruling of the Constitutional Court –, it was also illegal in terms of international law because of the violation of the sovereignty of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Professor Koechler explained. The fact that the administration of Mr. Djindjić assisted in this de facto abduction of the former Head of State does not give it even the semblance of legality. An administration that acts in violation of the country’s Constitution and delivers the former Head of State – or any citizen for that matter –, under conditions of economic blackmail, to a coalition of foreign governments (acting under the umbrella of a so-called “International War Crimes Tribunal”) cannot claim constitutional legitimacy for any of its further actions, Professor Koechler explained.

The President of the I.P.O. referred to his earlier Memorandum of 27 May 1999 concerning the illegal indictment of President Milošević by the so-called "International War Crimes Tribunal" in The Hague and reiterated his view that there is no legal basis for the existence of this Tribunal. The respective resolution of the UN Security Council establishing the Tribunal was ultra vires. According to the UN Charter and to general principles of international law, the Security Council as the supreme executive organ of the United Nations has no competence at all in judicial matters including matters of criminal justice.

By the indictment of President Milošević in 1999 and his de facto abduction in 2001 (with the use of NATO infrastructure on the territory of former Yugoslavia), under conditions of economic blackmail of the government of Yugoslavia, the so-called "International War Crimes Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia" has set a dangerous precedent in relations between sovereign states that has to be opposed by all nations. This "Tribunal" is not only lacking legal validity of its actions, it has made the policy of double standards the basic principle of its operation. The “Chief Prosecutor” of the "Tribunal" refuses to deal with the illegality of the war of aggression led by NATO forces against Yugoslavia in 1999 and with the well-documented war crimes and violations of international humanitarian law by NATO forces, having acted on orders of  their commanders and of the political leaders of NATO member countries. By the discriminatory application of legal principles, i. e. by rendering legal immunity to the perpetrators of the war of aggression against Yugoslavia, the "Tribunal" has documented to the entire world that it acts on the basis of power, not of law, and that it engages in the exercise of “victors’ justice." Those powers who control the Security Council – on top of them the United States – do not need to fear the "Tribunal" which has been set up under their control. Such is the predicament of present-day international law that legal principles can only be enforced according to the interests of the powerful members of the self-declared “international community.”

Professor Koechler further emphasized that the “extradition” of former President Milošević occurred under peculiar and scandalous geo-strategic circumstances: The NATO alliance, without the initial approval of the Security Council, had waged a war of aggression against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in 1999, had impoverished the country by deliberately destroying the civilian infrastructure and industrial base, and now has been trying to force Yugoslavia into submission by linking the issue of reconstruction aid with the extradition of the former President and other officials of Yugoslavia. In terms of international law, the countries of the NATO alliance are liable for full compensation of Yugoslavia for all damages caused by their illegal war; the political leaders of those countries have to be held accountable – in terms of international law and of their personal criminal responsibility – for their actions.

An “International Criminal Tribunal,” established through an incompetent body of the United Nations system and operating under the de facto control of those who waged the war against Yugoslavia, can never be the proper legal forum to deal with issues of personal criminal responsibility. Because of its structure and the way it was set up, it can only deliver “victors’ justice.” If a court cannot act in a sovereign and independent manner and lacks the legal title of its jurisdiction, it will only render disservice to the international rule of law and should be disbanded, Professor Koechler explained.

In the absence of a division of powers – the basic requirement of the rule of law – in the present system of international law, issues of personal criminal responsibility of the citizens of Yugoslavia, including the former President and other governmental leaders and officials, can only be dealt with by the judicial authorities of Yugoslavia. A government that delivers its officials under duress (i.e. under conditions of economic blackmail) to a coalition of foreign governments cannot claim legitimacy vis-ŕ-vis the people subjected to its rule. An ad hoc tribunal (court) set up by the victors of a conflict can never be the basis for legal action against the officials of the country that is the victim of the aggression.

The President of the I.P.O. stated that those UN member states that still believe in the principles of the UN Charter, first and foremost the principle of the sovereign equality of nations, should unite in the UN General Assembly and call for the disbanding of the ad hoc tribunals set up by the Security Council in violation of the UN Charter. The future of international law, including international criminal law, will be determined by the stand taken by United Nations member states on issues of national jurisdiction and sovereignty. If they accept the illegal extradition of the former President of Yugoslavia as fait accompli, there will be no legal counter-arguments in the future when a country is forced to deliver its leader to a coalition of powerful states as long as this coalition manages to set up a structure with a semblance of legality and United Nations backing, even if derived from decisions adopted ultra vires as in the present case. This is the reason why the majority of UN member states should not allow the NATO coalition against Yugoslavia to set a precedent in terms of international law and to carry out acts of “abduction” unchallenged, Professor Koechler concluded. 

END/ Extradition of former Yugoslav President Milošević – Violation of international law and of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia/01-07-01/P/RE/17210c-is

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