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Court Reduces Serbs’ Jail Sentences

November 17, 2000

NIS, Yugoslavia (AP) _ The Yugoslav army’s top court has reduced the sentences of seven men convicted of plotting to kill Slobodan Milosevic, a military judge said Friday.

The group _ known as OSA, a Serbian-language acronym for Serbian Liberation Army _ was sentenced in April to terms ranging from 1 1/2 to five years _ exceptionally light penalties in view of the charges of conspiracy against the state and terrorism. All seven had pleaded innocent after their arrest in December.

Col. Vukadin Milojevic, a judge at the military supreme court in the southern city of Nis, said the seven Serbs’ sentences were reduced by between six months to a year after appeals by their defense lawyers.

Lt. Boban Gajic, OSA’s alleged ringleader, had his sentence reduced from five to four years, Milojevic said.

Gajic has said he discussed the idea of a coup against Milosevic, who was Yugoslav president at the time, with the other six men, but that OSA was not a ``terrorist″ organization. Instead, he said, OSA had ``patriotic″ intentions and hoped to change Milosevic’s regime and restore Serbia’s monarchy.

On Friday, a close Milosevic associate, Yugoslav army chief Gen. Nebojsa Pavkovic, set the wheels in motion for an acquittal of the OSA members, the state-run Tanjug news agency reported. The report cited an announcement from the army’s press service saying Pavkovic had initiated legal proceedings with the Justice Ministry.

Milosevic’s 13-year regime was ended by a popular uprising last month following a tainted election in September.

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