Mutiny Trial Begins for 8 Former Serbian Special Police

Posted October 3rd, 2012 at 5:00 pm (UTC-5)
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Eight former members of an elite police squad loyal to the late Serbian strongman Slobodan Milosevic have gone on trial in Belgrade for their roles in a 2001 mutiny.

The charges against members of the once-feared Red Beret police stem from their refusal to arrest Serb suspects wanted by international investigators for war crimes allegedly committed during the Balkan wars of the 1990s.

Three of the defendants — Milorad Ulemek, Zvezdan Jovanovich and Dusko Maricic — are already serving 40-year prison terms for the assassination of reformist Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic.

Mr. Djindjic, who played a key role in the 2001 arrest and transfer of Milosevic to war crimes prosecutors, was shot to death in Belgrade in 2003. No link between the mutiny and the assassination has been legally established.

Serbian news reports Wednesday say the three main mutiny defendants refused to enter pleas, while the remaining five pleaded not guilty.

The Red Beret unit — later linked to organized crime — was dissolved after the Djindjic assassination. It was founded by Milosevic in the early 1990s, as the Yugoslav Federation began to break apart with wars in Croatia and Bosnia.