Bozidar Delic, who commanded the Yugoslav Army’s 549th Motorised Brigade, which was involved in large-scale killings during the Kosovo conflict, was elected as one of the seven vice-presidents of new Serbian parliament.
First sitting of the new Serbian parliament in Belgrade on Monday. Photo: EPA-EFE/ANDREJ CUKIC.
Bozidar Delic, a retired Yugoslav Army general who was commander of the 549th Motorised Brigade, which was involved in some of most notorious attacks on villages in Kosovo in 1999, was elected as one of seven vice-presidents of the Serbian parliament late on Tuesday night.
Delic was proposed for the position as the right-wing opposition NADA (Hope) coalition’s candidate. He is one of three opposition vice-presidents and was elected with 197 votes, which included votes from ruling and opposition parties.
The Humanitarian Law Centre NGO published a file in 2013 containing the most comprehensive documentation so far of the eight military offensives involving the 549th Brigade of the Yugoslav Army in Kosovo villages in March and April 1999, which resulted in a total of 885 deaths.
In an attack on the villages of Meja and Korenica on April 27, 1999, troops, police and paramilitaries, including soldiers of the 549th Brigade, killed at least 377 civilians, 36 of whom were under 18 years old.
The Serbian war crimes prosecutor’s office told BIRN in 2013 that Delic has been under investigation more than once. He was never indicted.
He has never denied being commander of the 549th Brigade, but has denied committing war crimes. “I know what was happening in my area of responsibility. I was always in the first line of attack,” Delic told the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugsolavia, claiming however that he had “no knowledge of the mass killings of Albanians”.
Spaeking about another Yugoslav Army assault on the village of Landovica on March 26, 1999, Delic told the Serbian Commission for Cooperation with the ICTY that the attack was launched in response to the Kosovo Liberation Army’s killing of his soldiers.
“I ordered the engagement of an entire army squadron… and ordered Major Nikolic to send one tank,” Delic wrote in a statement to the commission, explaining that the village was a base for “terrorists”.
Delic retired in 2005 and later a become member of the nationalist Serbian Radical Party. When Tomislav Nikolic and Aleksandar Vucic, who were both later to serve as president of Serbia, left the Radical Party and set up the Serbian Progressive Party, Delic was one of the people who joined them.
However, he left the Progressive Party in 2011 and returned to the Radical Party, but then left again in 2020. He has been a Serbian MP multiple times since 2007, and he has twice served as parliamentary vice-president.
While in office, President Slobodan Milosevic honoured the 549th Brigade for its role in the war in Kosovo, giving the brigade a People’s Hero medal for the “heroic defence of the country”.
Copyright BIRN 2015