Justice watch

War crimes to get a hearing in Serbia

BELGRADE, SERBIA-MONTENEGRO - Serbia's leaders opened a special court last week to try high-profile cases of organized crime and wartime atrocities committed under former President Slobodan Milosevic. The maximum-security court building in downtown Belgrade, newly renovated with the help of $850,000 from the US government, will also house a special prosecutor's office.

Prime Minister Zoran Zivkovic said the special court may also try four Serb generals indicted earlier this week by the UN war crimes court in The Hague. Prosecutors in The Hague, however, insisted Friday that the generals, including current Assistant Interior Minister Sreten Lukic, must be arrested and extradited to the Netherlands for trial there.

Government officials have ruled out arresting the four anytime soon, saying the latest indictments came at a delicate time for Serbia's pro-democracy government as it faces a no-confidence vote launched by nationalist lawmakers opposed to the UN tribunal.

Under Western pressure, the government that ousted Mr. Milosevic in 2000 extradited him to the UN tribunal, where he faces charges including genocide for the 1990s Balkan wars.

High Court May Take Terror Cases

WASHINGTON - The US Supreme Court has stayed out of judging the Bush administration's terrorism-fighting strategy, but that soon could change.

Lower courts have kept busy with challenges to the imprisonment of "enemy combatants" in the United States, government spying, secrecy about immigrants arrested after the Sept. 11 attacks, and the detention of terrorism suspects in Cuba. Several Supreme Court justices have said they eventually expect to take cases related to the fight against terrorism.

"It's going to get harder and harder I think for the Supreme Court to stay out of these," says Steven Shapiro, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union.

The justices' next chance comes early in November, when the court is expected to announce whether it will review cases involving the detention of foreigners at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. About 660 men from some 40 countries, mostly said to be Al Qaida and Taliban foot soldiers, have been held for as long as two years without access to lawyers.

The Times appoints a watchdog

NEW YORK - The New York Times has chosen someone from outside its own organization, former Time Inc. executive Daniel Okrent, as its first "public editor." Mr. Okrent will act as an advocate for readers as the newspaper tries to repair damage from reporting scandals earlier this year.

Times editors Howell Raines and Gerald Boyd resigned in June amid discoveries that reporter Jayson Blair had fabricated material in his stories.

A committee of Times journalists recommended the appointment of a public editor to help prevent future problems.

The Times previously had resisted calls for an ombudsman, even as dozens of American newspapers have appointed them amid readership declines and falling confidence in the media.

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