The lower house of the Russian parliament today harshly criticised the UN War Crimes Tribunal, blaming it for Slobodan Milosevic’s death and calling for its quick closure.
The State Duma voted unanimously to approve a statement that accused the tribunal of being “extremely politicised and biased” in its inquiries and said that its failure to provide Milosevic with adequate medical care led to the former Yugoslav president’s death on Saturday.
“Russia had been ready to accept Slobodan Milosevic for treatment and provide the International Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia with the guarantees of his return to The Hague, but the tribunal had ignored these appeals, undertaking full responsibility for Milosevic’s life,” the lower house said.
It said the tribunal’s failure to provide qualified medical care to Milosevic amounted to “flagrant violation of human rights.”
The statement called for a quick completion of the tribunal’s inquiries and said that its “further activities will be unfeasible.”
Milosevic was arrested in 2001 and put on trial in February 2002 on 66 counts for war crimes and genocide in Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo during Yugoslavia’s violent break-up in the 1990s.
He was the first sitting head of state indicted for war crimes.
He was the sixth war crimes suspect from the Balkans to die at The Hague.
A week earlier, convicted former Croatian Serb leader Milan Babic, a star prosecution witness against Milosevic, killed himself in the same prison.
The Russian parliament alluded to the deaths, saying that “such a tragic chain of events is in clear discord with European calls for observing human rights.”
During today’s debates, some MPs angrily recalled the Western criticism of Russia’s rights record, saying that Milosevic’s death shows the West doesn’t have the moral right to judge Russia.
“We must immediately end all European Union inspections of Russian prison facilities,” said nationalist MP Sergei Abeltsev.