Balkans: February 16, 2002


: The biggest Balkan news of the week is the trial of former Serb dictator Slobodan Milosevic in the Hague. Milosevic has been conducting a defense in the international court that vacillates between long-winded ramble and angry, almost-effective sound-bite. Several commentators have argued that though the ICTYs case is strong, convicting Slobo may depend on the testimony of Serb insiders who are willing to testify against him. Milosevic didnt leave a lot of paper evidence, but its a good bet Western (and possibly Russian) intelligence agencies have electronic intelligence tying him to specific incidents in Bosnia (1992-95), Croatia (1991-95), and Kosovo (1998-99). How much intel evidence will we see? Thats one of the interesting aspects of the trial. Milosevic has already made the strategic decision to attack his attackers. Hell argue any evidence provided by intelligence agencies is fabrication. Last year he stated that the entire case against him is phony. On February 13, Milosevic told the court that it had does not have the competence to try him. On February 14, he went on for hours. He even tried to leverage The War on Terror as part of his defense. Here are some of the juicier Slobo lines (and by no means all of them): (1) "The whole world knows that this is a political trial that has nothing to do with the law whatsoever." (2) "The Americans go right to the other side of the globe to fight terrorism, in Afghanistan...whereas here, the struggle against terrorism right in one's own country is considered to be a crime." (3) [After showing a video that he said supported his case] "This is just an atom of truth in the ocean of lies and the product of propaganda and the use of global media as a means of war against my country." (4) "The (NATO) aggression against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was the greatest aggression in the world after World War II." (5)You (this court) basically have nothing and that is why you have to concoct things, invent things." (6) "Kosovo does not border Serbia. Kosovo is Serbia. The Hague does not border the Netherlands." On February 15 Slobo continued his defense. The most interesting statement was his intent to call former US President Bill Clinton as a witness. Heres the quote: "In relation with crimes, I am going to call witnesses here and I want it to be possible for me to question Clinton and Albright and Kinkel, and Schroeder and Kohl and Dini." (Thats ex-US President Bill Clinton, ex-US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, former German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel, current German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, ex-German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, and ex-Italian foreign minister Lamberto Dini.) Slobo continued to attack NATO. He called NATOs air war a crime. (He also showed photos of dead Serb children allegedly killed in NATO air attacks.) He scorned the UN for not holding NATO accountable for those crimes. Heres the quote: "What kind of tribunal can you talk about when you refuse to try people for all these try only those who defended themselves." He also charged KFOR with committing war crimes and, in collaborating with the KLA, committing a genocide against Kosovar Serbs. He said 3000 Serbs have died during KFORs time as an occupying force. He compared the destruction of Serbian Orthodox churches and religious sites in Kosovo to the Talibans destruction of the Bamiyan Buddha's in Afghanistan. Essentially Slobo is arguing that the UN only tries the losers in a war. The charge sheet against Milosevic is long and involved. There are a total of 66 counts, including murder, forced deportation, extermination, torture, violation of the 1949 Geneva Convention, and the commission of various atrocities. The counts relating to Croatia are indicative of the deportation charges. Milosevic is charged with running a joint criminal enterprise (beginning in August 1991) whose goal was the "forcible removal of the majority of the Croat and other non-Serb population from the approximately one-third of the territory of the republic of Croatia he planned to become part of a new Serb-dominated state. As for Bosnia, Milosevic specifically faces the charge of genocide in the 1995 massacre of Bosniaks in Srebrenica. (Austin Bay)




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