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World Court Opens Case Of Yugoslav Air War

19 April 2004 -- The World Court today opened hearings into a case by Serbia and Montenegro on the legality of NATO's 1999 air war to end a Serb crackdown on ethnic Albanians.

Yugoslavia, the predecessor state of Serbia and Montenegro, argued that Belgium, the Netherlands, Canada, Portugal, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, and Italy used force illegally during the war. Yugoslavia's suit also accuses those eight states of genocide.

Two similar cases were filed against the United States and Spain in 1999, but the court threw those cases out on a technicality.

The eight NATO members are expected to argue that the court does not have jurisdiction to consider the case against them.

In 1999, NATO launched an air war to end a Serb crackdown on independence-seeking ethnic Albanians in Kosovo. Hundreds of civilians were killed in the bombing campaign.