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Switzerland extends freeze of possible Milosevic regime accounts

The Swiss authorities have extended the freeze of possible accounts and assets of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic to include about 300 private persons and companies.

This content was published on July 16, 1999 - 17:12

The Swiss authorities have extended the freeze of possible accounts and assets of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic to include about 300 private persons and companies.

Swiss President Ruth Dreifuss signed the order into force on Friday, effectively implementing a list of names and companies drawn up by the European Union in May.

A spokesman in the Swiss economics ministry said the freeze would affect virtually the “entire ruling clique” in Yugoslavia.

The delay of the latest Swiss move was due to the legal implementation of the EU blacklist, the spokesman added. Switzerland is not a member of the 15-nation EU.

The government decision means that Swiss banks will be ordered not to accept or manage any funds for the persons and companies blacklisted by Brussels.

Last month, Switzerland’s federal police office ordered banks to block any assets and accounts that might be held by President Milosevic, Yugoslav Deputy Prime Minister Nikola Sainovic, Yugoslav armed forces chief of staff Dragoljub Ojdanic and Serbian Interior Minister Vlajko Stojiljkovic.

The move came after the international war crimes tribunal for Yugoslavia – a United Nations body based in the Hague -- asked Switzerland for legal assistance in its prosecution of the Yugoslav leaders for alleged atrocities against ethnic Albanians in Kosovo.

Switzerland has also issued arrest warrants for the five men at the request of the tribunal. They are wanted on suspicion of crimes against humanity, murder, and deportations.

Despite Friday’s blocking order, officials said they were under no illusion about the effectiveness of the asset freeze.

Federal police spokesman Folco Galli said that no funds had been reported so far. If there ever were assets in Swiss banks, he added, they had likely been moved elsewhere a long time ago.


From staff and wire reports.

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