The first civil suit against NATO from one of the victims of the bombing of Yugoslavia by the alliance forces in 1999 with the use of depleted uranium was filed with the Supreme Court of Belgrade. This is reported by the Serbian national television RTS.
Earlier, the plaintiffs’ lawyer Srdjan Aleksic told RIA Novosti that it is planned to submit five applications so far. This is the first time that claims have been submitted by individuals and will be referred to the courts of Belgrade, Novi Sad, Kragujevac, Niš and Vranje.
“We are talking about the highest courts, to which we will submit five lawsuits. The victims are individuals – deceased and sick servicemen and police officers of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, who were in Kosovo in 1999. We want that at the first stage these were identical cases, as in the case of the Italian military, ”RIA Novosti quotes him.
In 1999, the Italian military who participated in the NATO campaign were stationed in Kosovo and Metohija, after which some of them were diagnosed with cancer. Subsequently, through the courts, they achieved the right to monetary compensation and free treatment.
Aleksic told RTS that both Serbian and Italian soldiers were diagnosed with leukemia, cancers of the thyroid gland, throat, brain, bones, leukemia and other organs.
The lawyer plans to obtain for each of the Serbian plaintiffs compensation for damage in the amount of at least € 300 thousand – by analogy with the military from Western European countries, who suffered from being near radioactive ammunition. Lawyer Angelo Fiore Tartaglia, who represented the interests of military personnel from Italy, is also involved in the case.
“He has 181 court decisions that have already entered into force in Europe. He will be a member of my lawyer team, we registered him with the Nis Bar Chamber. We have more than 3 thousand pages of materials, including verdicts, expert data, materials of a special commission of the Italian government. We have collected enough evidence for the decision of the courts in Serbia to be in our favor, ”Srdjan Aleksic emphasized.
During a conversation with reporters, Aleksic stressed that the use of depleted uranium in shells violates the right to life of Serbian citizens living in the province of Kosovo and Metohija and in southern Serbia. He noted that people still live in the places where the bombings were carried out with such shells, many of whom were diagnosed with cancer.
Aleksic added that the current lawsuits are based, among other things, on the decision of the Belgrade District Court in 2001, by which the NATO leaders, represented by the American General Wesley Clark and the former secretary general of the alliance Javier Solana, were found guilty of war crimes against the Serbian population.
According to the lawyer, in the materials of the case in which this decision was made, the dates and areas of the use by NATO aircraft in 1999 of shells with depleted uranium cores are precisely indicated.
The Supreme Court in Belgrade must consider the claim within six months and then send it to NATO headquarters. The Alliance must respond to the claim within 30 days of receiving it.
Srdjan Aleksic said that earlier the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg ruled on a similar claim in favor of British servicemen who received a dose of radiation while serving.
Aleksic stressed that over the three months of the bombing of Yugoslavia, about 15 tons of depleted uranium shells were dropped on the regions of Kosovo and Metohija and in the south of Serbia. To date, according to the lawyer, it is planned to file about 2.5 thousand claims.
Let us recall that in 1998 the Kosovar Albanians initiated an armed conflict against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro) in order to achieve the independence of Kosovo and Metohija. Against the backdrop of biased Western media coverage of events, the North Atlantic Alliance intervened.
On March 24, 1999, under the pretext of protecting civilians in Kosovo, the troops of the NATO states began bombing military and civilian targets in Yugoslavia. The military operation was carried out without the sanction of the UN Security Council, which is a flagrant violation of international law.
The bombing continued from March to June 1999. According to the Serbian side’s estimates, more than 2.5 thousand people, including children, were killed as a result of the air strikes, and about 12.5 thousand were injured.
Shells with depleted uranium cores made from nuclear waste have increased armor-piercing characteristics, experts say. They were first used extensively by the US Army during the 1991 Gulf War. Then, after the invasion and occupation of Kuwait by Iraqi forces, the multinational coalition led by the United States launched strikes on Iraq, forcing official Baghdad to withdraw its troops from Kuwaiti territory.
In an interview with RT, military expert Yuri Knutov noted that, despite their danger, such shells are not included in the lists of prohibited weapons.
“Such projectiles have a high penetrating ability, they are difficult to destroy, and they are still not prohibited by international conventions,” the expert said.
In 2000, NATO issued a report admitting that about 10 tons of depleted uranium had been used during the Kosovo campaign. At the same time, the alliance denied that the use of such ammunition could lead to negative health consequences.
However, despite the fact that Serbian citizens, like the military personnel of Western countries, have the right to compensation for the damage caused to their health, NATO is unlikely to admit its guilt, Yuri Knutov believes.
As Vladimir Shapovalov, deputy director of the Institute of History and Politics of the Moscow State Pedagogical University, said in an interview with RT, Serbian citizens have every right to file such claims, since we are talking about war crimes and crimes against humanity that were committed by NATO troops.
« In this case, an important precedent is being created and, of course, claims against NATO member countries can be filed not only by residents of Serbia, but also by citizens of Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Syria and other countries that have suffered from the actions of the United States and its allies, » the political scientist emphasized.
He noted that such ammunition, in addition to its original properties, has a devastating effect on the environment and people who find themselves in the area of their use.
“The use of depleted uranium shells is a barbaric method of warfare. This weapon should not be used from the point of view of all conceivable ideas about military operations, it should fall under the category of prohibited types of weapons, « Shapovalov said.
“For the international community to take appropriate decisions that would allow prohibiting depleted uranium shells, the goodwill of all UN member states is needed. But one should not expect that NATO member countries that deny the prolongation of the negative consequences of the use of these ammunition will demonstrate it, ”the political scientist concluded.
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