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Press Review
Press Review Archive

Monday, 30 September, 2002


Part Two Milosevic Trial Underway

by our Hague reporter Lauren Comiteau, 27 September 2002

Milosevic-020315Prosecutors at the Yugoslav war crimes tribunal opened the second part of their case against Slobodan Milosevic on Thursday by saying they'll prove he's responsible for genocide in Bosnia. The former Yugoslav president who's been on trial for the past seven months for alleged war crimes in Kosovo is charged with 61 additional counts in relation to the wars in Croatia and Bosnia in the early to mid 1990s.

Link:  - Listen to Lauren Comiteau´s report, 3´34 - Listen to Lauren Comiteau´s report, 3´34

Prosecutor Geoffrey Nice told the three judges in courtroom 1 that to understand what happened in Bosnia, all they had to do is compare a pre-war map with a post-war one. The second he says looks a lot neater, showing all three ethnic groups - Serbs, Muslims and Croats - largely confined to their own areas.

    "It was a tidy map, bought by thousands of killings, innumerable acts of inhumanity, and countless acts of ethnic cleansing. Were the map of Croatia available in similar form, it would show a similar change from comparative untidiness to tidiness. It is the inhumanity that led to those changes into which we must now inquire."

"Criminal Entreprise"
Prosecutors say they will prove that Mr Milosevic was one of the people striving for such a neat map, that he was an integral part of a joint criminal enterprise whose goal was to ethnically cleanse huge parts of Bosnia and Croatia to make a Serb-dominated state. When persecution failed to do the job, said prosecutor Nice, Mr Milosevic resorted to genocide.

    "But we will submit to the conclusion of the evidence that the accused intended to destroy the Bosnian Muslim community in part in order to fulfil the aims of the objective of the criminal enterprise where persecutions would be insufficient to achieve the desired result or, alternatively, that genocide was the natural and foreseeable consequence of the joint criminal enterprise forcibly and permanently to remove non-Serbs from territory."

At the very least, says Mr Nice, the former Yugoslav president failed to prevent the genocide or to punish those who committed it. The prosecutor said Mr Milosevic may not be the sole architect of the plan, but without his essential support, which ranged from paying salaries of Bosnian Serb officers to supplying his proxies with military equipment, it couldn't have been carried out.

No Paper Trails
Politicians don't leave paper trails, says Mr Nice, but his prosecutors will present enough evidence to lay the guilt squarely at Mr Milosevic's door. Even if that evidence comes in bits and pieces and not as the single smoking gun many have come to expect.

When it was Mr Milosevic's turn to speak, he continued the argument he's been making since he first stepped into court more than a year ago: that he was the peacemaker trying to save Yugoslavia from the imperialist Western powers who wanted to break it up. He said, of course, he helped the Serbs in Croatia and Bosnia to survive, just like the Americans, Iranians and others supported the Muslims and Croats.

    "We heard here that we financed and helped the Serbs. The Serbs helping the Serbs, and that seems to be a crime. Why then is it not a crime that, for example, the Vatican provided money through the Vatican bank for the purchase of weapons for Croatia. By the same token, as Serbs helped Serbia, I am a criminal, but the Vatican helped Croats to secede by violent means but the Pope remains the Holy Father."

Mr Milosevic says he intends to call high-level Western politicians to testify about what they knew. But prosecutors still have another eight months to finish their case. The first of some 180 witnesses were called on Friday.


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