Over 4,000 Citizens of Serbia including Kosovo and Metohija, are Suing NATO. Their Cancer Diagnoses Are a Direct Consequence of the NATO Bombings of Yugoslavia in 1999
In 2022, Srdjan Aleksic, a lawyer from Nis, Serbia began a legal process against NATO. Since 2017 (when the gathering of evidence began) until this day over four thousand citizens of Serbia (including Kosovo and Metohija) have shown interest in suing NATO due to their own cancer diagnoses and diagnoses of their family members that they believe have a direct connection to the bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999 where uranium was used.
NATO has already confessed that they have dropped over 15 ton of uranium over Kosovo and Metohija and the southern parts of Serbia such as Presevo, Bujanovac and Vranje.
As a result of these bombings, over thirty thousand people every year in Serbia is diagnosed with cancer, this in a country that before the bombings in 1999 had less than seven thousand citizens diagnosed with cancer every year. Serbia is now the country in Europe that has the largest number of cancer diagnoses and the second in the world.
Andjelo Fiore Tartalja a lawyer from Italy is a part of Srdjan Aleksic legal team and is advising him in regard to the lawsuits filed against NATO on the behalf of Serbian citizens.
Tartalja has won over 350 cases in Italy where he has proven that Italian soldiers and officers in peacekeeping forces that were stationed in Kosovo and Metohija (after the bombings), where the largest amount of uranium bombs were thrown, have been diagnosed with cancer and many of which have died as a direct consequence of the uranium in NATO’s bombs. In their blood analysis 500 times more metal was found than normal. Over seven thousand Italian soldiers and officers have been diagnosed with cancer after their service in Kosovo and Metohija and 400 have passed away. It is also important to stress the fact that not only in Serbia has there been a huge increase in cancer diagnoses but also in neighbouring countries such as Bulgaria, Romania, North Macedonia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
It is believed that the particles from uranium bombs expand extensively after hitting their target (depending on a number of factors) and that it takes over 4.5 billion years for uranium to decay and that it stays in the soil for thousands of years and perhaps even longer. So not only is NATO responsible for “crimes against humanity” when using these bombs and leaving behind residual mines, they have committed the crime of Ecocide, where they have damaged and destructed Serbia’s ecosystem and biodiversity. Although this has not yet been recognized as a crime under international law, it is being contemplated so both humans, corporations and armies can be held accountable for the crimes of harmful pollution.
Srdjan Aleksic and his team of lawyers have so far collected the medical documentation and power of attorney documentation of 1.500 citizens and 35 cases have been field in the higher court in Belgrade. Every month they file 10 new cases and will continue to do so. In the cases where the plaintiff is deceased, family members have forwarded the medical documentation and will continue the procedure on their behalf, and even these cases will be field in the higher court in Belgrade.
Srdjan Aleksic and his team of lawyers are not interested in economic gain and are not charging their clients for their legal work since most of the plaintiffs are from the southern parts of Serbia that are extremely poor and have already sold almost everything they possess only to be treated for their cancer. It is believed that more plaintiff`s would sue NATO but the taxes just to begin the legal process in Serbia are 350 Euro and most people in the southern parts of Serbia do not have the means to pay these taxes. Srdjan Aleksic also has a personal agenda since his mother and many of his family members from his village near Bujanovac died of cancer after the NATO bombings.
Due to the increase of cancer diagnoses in Bosnia and Hercegovina after the NATO bombings in 1995 many citizens are contemplating suing NATO believing that the uranium used then as well is the cause of their cancer diagnoses. They are currently waiting to see the outcome of the trials in Serbia before they begin their legal procedures.
NATO has replied, stating that they have immunity and that they do not have to answer to the higher court in Belgrade because of the Transit Agreement signed in 2005 between Serbia and NATO and Serbia joining the Partnership for Peace in 2006.
The Transit Agreement and Partnership for Peace have no connection to the legal cases mentioned in this article, the Transit Agreement is simply an agreement that allows allied forces serving as part of KFOR to pass through Serbian territory. The Partnership of Peace is Serbia cooperating with NATO and the Tribunal in Hague. Srdjan Aleksic says that immunity cannot be implemented retroactively since the bombings took place in 1999 and the agreements were signed six years later. The trials have been postponed due to the death of Colonel Dragan Stojcic (served 280 days at the border between Kosovo and Serbia and in Kosovo) that passed away due to his cancer. He was the first plaintiff to sue NATO. His wife will continue his procedure in court. The trials are expected to start at the end of 2023.
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Natali Milenkovic is a student at the University of Malmo.