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Cancer-stricken Serbian sues NATO for use of depleted uranium in 1999 attack on Yugoslavia

His lawyer Srdan Aleksic disclosed that the Serbian officer’s grievance is fully identical to the 500 lawsuits, filed by Italian soldiers who were deployed in Kosovo in 1999

BELGRADE, January 20. /TASS/. A former Yugoslav serviceman, identified only as D.S., filed a lawsuit with the Belgrade Supreme Court against NATO over the Alliance’s use of depleted uranium during its 1999 war of aggression against Yugoslavia, which caused the plaintiff to come down with cancer, his lawyer Srdan Aleksic told TASS Wednesday.

"I have just filed D.S.’s lawsuit with the Belgrade Supreme Court for compensation of damages due to cancer as a result of being situated in Kosovo and southern Serbia in 2000-2001. The lawsuit was filed against NATO, which has the status of a legal entity from the standpoint of international law," he noted. "D.S., who was an army officer at the time, stayed in the area, bombarded with depleted uranium by NATO, for 201 days. Eighteen years later, he contracted a heavy form of smooth muscle cancer which spread to [his] internal organs, he endured three surgeries in 2018-2020, and is currently in serious medical condition. A forensic medicine expert confirmed that the disease was caused by depleted uranium."

Aleksic disclosed that the Serbian officer’s grievance is fully identical to the 500 lawsuits, filed by Italian soldiers who were deployed in Kosovo in 1999. Of those, 181 claims were granted, and Italy’s Ministry of Defense compensated the damages. The first similar case ended several months ago with a plaintiff’s victory in France. Similar lawsuits are currently in the works in the UK, Turkey, Germany and the Netherlands.

"My Italian colleague Angelo Tartaglia provided me with over 70 verdicts and over 1,000 pages of evidence, including papers of the Italian parliamentary commission that proved the connection between the depleted uranium and oncological conditions, as well as the evidence from the World Health Organization, and evidence gathered at a US Air Force base in California in 1988 that indicate the harm depleted uranium does to people," Aleksic emphasized.

"Identical analyses, carried out in Italy, have confirmed the 1988 US data regarding the danger that depleted uranium poses to people and the environment. The 15 tonnes of depleted uranium that ended up in southern Serbia still affect the entire region, including [North] Macedonia, Albania, and Bulgaria. Many people were exposed and got cancer," the lawyer pointed out.

Before the end of this month, four similar lawsuits will be filed in the cities of Novi Sad, Kragujevac, Nis and Vrane. Currently, Aleksic’s law firm is putting together over 2,500 more lawsuits from the military and law enforcement. The attorneys intend to win compensation damages for their victims starting from 100,000 euro.

According to the existing procedure, the Supreme Court of Belgrade must review the case and hand it over to NATO within six months. Should the Alliance fail to react within the mentioned time, the Court will appoint a lawyer for the defendant on its own.

NATO’s war of aggression against Yugoslavia

NATO’s war of aggression against Yugoslavia began on March 24, 1999, and dragged on for 78 days. The operation, dubbed Allied Force, cited "the prevention of the genocide of Albanians in Kosovo" as its main cause. According to NATO’s statistics, during the operation, the Alliance aviation carried out 38,000 sorties, over 10,000 of them were bombing runs.

According to Serbian officials, the bombing resulted in deaths of 3,500 to 4,000 people, while some 10,000 people were injured, two-thirds of them being civilians. The material damages amounted up to $100 billion. During the three months of the bombing, NATO dropped 15 tonnes of depleted uranium as bombs. After that, Serbia became number one country in Europe regarding cancer diseases, during the first 10 years after the bombings, some 30,000 people came down with cancer in the country, and between 10,000 and 18,000 of them died.

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