PRISTINA, Yugoslavia, Sept. 7 -- A U.N. court Friday handed down a controversial ruling stating Serbian troops -- on the orders of former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic -- did not carry out genocide of ethnic-Albanians during his 1998-99 campaign of aggression in Kosovo.
The ruling -- made by the U.N.-supervised Supreme Court in the Kosovar capital, Pristina -- angered Albanians throughout the region and some U.N. officials are reportedly preparing to challenge it, the British Broadcasting Corp. reported.
Milosevic is awaiting trial in The Hague, Netherlands, for war crimes and crimes against humanity for the same campaign. The tribunal is also preparing indictments connecting Milosevic with acts of genocide during Serbia's 1992-95 wars with the former Yugoslav provinces Bosnia and Croatia.
The decision, according to BBC, was based on the 1948 Geneva Convention which defines genocide as the intent "to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group as such."
The court maintains that war crimes and crimes against humanity did take place but the "the exactions committed by Milosevic's regime cannot be qualified as criminal acts of genocide, since their purpose was not the destruction of the Albanian ethnic group ... but its forceful departure from Kosovo."
Kosovo's highest ruling body, the court however said the campaign included murders, rapes, arsons and "severe maltreatments."
Comprised of two international judges and one ethnic Albanian, it was ruling on a Serb, Miroslav Vuckovic, "convicted of genocide by a district court in Mitrovica," the BBC reported.
The ruling comes at a time when Serbian authorities began the excavation of yet another mass grave in Serbia, believed to contain some 50 ethnic-Albanians from Kosovo who were killed during the Serbian campaign.
Ethnic-Albanians say the bodies recently discovered around the Serbian capital, Belgrade, were transported out of the embattled province at the orders of Milosevic to cover up possible war crimes.