By the end of the year, Serbian international legal team will file the first lawsuit for compensation of damages caused to the Serbian citizens who were exposed to depleted uranium used in the NATO bombing, after which they fell ill with cancer.
This was announced by Srdjan Aleksic, lawyer and head of the team, at the international symposium “Consequences of the bombing of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) with depleted uranium in 1999”, held today in the city of Nis.
Aleksic specified that the legal team will first propose to the NATO member states that have been bombing the FRY, to settle the damages with the affected citizens of Serbia through compensation for damages and covering the costs of health treatments in Serbia and abroad. Since the case law is different in each of the NATO member states, the lawsuits will, as the case may be, be submitted to the courts of those 19 NATO member states or domestic courts. The legal team will, if so assessed, lobby and form an international ad hoc court to resolve this issue.
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“We already have solid evidence that in Serbia, and especially the south part of the country, due has seen an increased number of cancer patients and cancer-related deaths due to the use of depleted uranium ammunition, and that the environment is heavily polluted. The finding of the 4th Italian parliamentary commission, as well as the case law in that country, represent a “wind in the sails” for us, since in that country, which has had international military missions for years, has awarded damages ranging from 200,000 euro to 500,000 euro, to their soldiers who were deployed in the areas bombarded with depleted uranium regardless of how long there were deployed in these areas”, Aleksic explains.
Political analyst, military pilot and head of the defense department of the Military Observatory of the Italian Army, Domenico Leggero said that Italian courts have issued over 80 rulings ordering the Ministry of Defence to pay compensation to severely ill soldiers who had been deployed in Kosovo and other territories exposed to the deplete uranium or their families, if the soldiers had died. The 4th Italian parliamentary commission found “indisputable facts” about the harmful effects of depleted uranium on the health of Italian citizens exposed to it, as well as the involvement of the military and political leadership in hiding this kind of information.
“The aim of this commission is to have justice for all victims, as well as doing preventive activities with Italian soldiers who will continue to go to peacekeeping missions on contaminated territories. The Commission submitted its findings to the European Parliament, as well as a draft law that deals with the compensation of damages to people who are seriously ill after exposure to depleted uranium, and help for the people still living in contaminated areas”, he said.
Leggero, who one of the most vocal advocates of this issue being brought in front of the courts and finding proof of the causal and consequential link between exposure to depleted uranium and cancer, delivered today to the Serbian legal team all the documentation and other evidence he has on this topic. The video, showed at the meeting, also featured a presentation made by the Pentagon, which was “delivered to all NATO members” in 1994, in which serious harmful effects of depleted uranium on the health of exposed soldiers were reported, as well as recommendations on how to minimize them.
At the two-day event, 30 participants from Italy, Germany, Russia, Switzerland, Cyprus, China and Serbia will discuss the relevant scientific papers, as well as the evidence gathered by the special committees of their countries on the dangers of depleted uranium ammunition in exposed zones, from Iraq and Afghanistan to Bosnia and Herzegovina and former Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The meeting will also be attended by 12 foreign participants, some of whom are academics and “prominent figures from the field of international public and international criminal law”.
The organizers said that today’s gathering was also attended by members of the Commission to investigate the consequences of NATO bombing in 1999 for the health of Serbia’s citizens and the environment recently established by the Serbian Parliament. Lieutenant General of the Serbian Army, Milosav Simovic was also one of the attendees, while Serbian General Spasoje Mucibabic said that “the Serbian Army will provide all the information it has at its disposal, which is necessary for filing the lawsuit”.
The symposium was attended by several doctors too, as well as numerous representatives of the Bar Association and lawyers. The organizers said that the lawsuits for compensation of damages were supported by Serbia and Belgrade’s Bar Association, and in part, by the Bar Chamber of Nis.
This post is also available in: Italiano