Serbia files first lawsuits against NATO on behalf of 1999 bombing victims

Last Updated: Wednesday, 20 January 2021 (17:23 IST)
Belgrade: Serbian victims of the 1999 bombing in will, for the first time in over 20 years, on Wednesday file lawsuits against the alliance for the use of depleted uranium ammunition during the air strikes, Srdjan Aleksic, the lawyer who is leading the team of legal experts, told Sputnik.

Aleksic and his team have been putting together cases with material evidence for several years. Lawsuits against NATO as a legal entity will be filed on behalf of the victims.
 
“We are filing lawsuits on Wednesday in courts in the cities of Belgrade, Novi Sad, Kragujevac, Nis and Vranje. We are talking about the highest courts, to which we will file five lawsuits. The victims are natural persons - deceased and sick soldiers and police officers of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, who were in Kosovo in 1999. At the first stage, we want them to be identical cases, as in the Italian military,” Aleksic said.
 
As was the case with Western European servicemen who received high radiation doses while serving in NATO near radioactive ammunition and at the places of their use, the lawyer seeks to win compensation for each of the Serbian victims in the amount of at least 300,000 euros ($364,508). Aleksic is assisted by the Italian lawyer Angelo Fiore Tartaglia, who has successfully represented the interests of the Italian military.
 
“He has 181 court rulings, which have already entered into force in Europe. He will be a member of my legal expert team. We have more than 3,000 pages of materials, including verdicts, expert opinions, materials of a special Italian government commission. We have collected enough evidence,” Aleksic noted.
 
The next step after the Higher Court in Belgrade admits the lawsuits would be to send a formal notification to the NATO headquarters within six months. The alliance, on its part, will have to respond within 30 days.
 
NATO airstrikes continued from March 24 to June 10, 1999. The exact number of victims of the airstrikes is unknown. The Serbian authorities say that about 2,500 people, including 89 children, were killed and about 12,500 people were injured in the bombings. According to various sources, the material damage is assessed at between $30 billion and $100 billion.
 
The military operation was conducted without the approval of the UN Security Council and on the basis of the Western countries’ allegations that the Yugoslavian authorities had carried out ethnic cleansing in Kosovo and provoked a humanitarian catastrophe there.
 
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic has said that the use of depleted uranium weapons during the NATO operation is behind the increase in the number of cancer patients in the Balkan nation. Moreover, Belgrade said it established a special commission to investigate the consequences of the for the environment and health of the Serbs. (UNI)