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Identifier
Created
Classification
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03THEHAGUE2769
2003-11-04 11:42:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy The Hague
Cable title:  

ICTY: KEY WITNESSES TESTIFY TO MILOSEVIC'S CONTROL

Tags:   BK  HR  KAWC  NL  PHUM  PREL  SR  ICTY 
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						C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 04 THE HAGUE 002769 

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR S/WCI - PROSPER/RICHARD, EUR - ROSSIN,
EUR/SCE - STEPHENS/GREGORIAN, L/EUR - LAHNE, L/AF - GTAFT.
INR/WCAD - SEIDENSTRICKER/MORIN; USUN FOR ROSTOW/WILLSON

E.O. 12958: DECL: 1.6 FIVE YEARS AFTER CLOSURE ICTY
TAGS: BK HR KAWC NL PHUM PREL SR ICTY
SUBJECT: ICTY: KEY WITNESSES TESTIFY TO MILOSEVIC'S CONTROL
OF GOVERNMENT AND MILITARY

(U) Classified by Clifton M. Johnson, Legal Counselor, for
reasons 1.5(D) and 1.6.

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 04 THE HAGUE 002769

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR S/WCI - PROSPER/RICHARD, EUR - ROSSIN,
EUR/SCE - STEPHENS/GREGORIAN, L/EUR - LAHNE, L/AF - GTAFT.
INR/WCAD - SEIDENSTRICKER/MORIN; USUN FOR ROSTOW/WILLSON

E.O. 12958: DECL: 1.6 FIVE YEARS AFTER CLOSURE ICTY
TAGS: BK HR KAWC NL PHUM PREL SR ICTY
SUBJECT: ICTY: KEY WITNESSES TESTIFY TO MILOSEVIC'S CONTROL
OF GOVERNMENT AND MILITARY

(U) Classified by Clifton M. Johnson, Legal Counselor, for
reasons 1.5(D) and 1.6.


1. (C) Summary: Trial Chamber III of the International
Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) heard
testimony from political insiders the week of October 20 as
the Prosecution continued to present its case against
Slobodan Milosevic. Two key witnesses offered their versions
of the role Milosevic played in the break up of the Former
Yugoslavia, particularly with respect to Belgrade,s support
for military and paramilitary forces operating in Croatia and
Bosnia. While the testimony was generally strong, Milosevic
succeeded in making several assertions during
cross-examinations that undermined parts of the testimony.
The week of October 27 was highlighted by the appearance of
Deputy Prosecutor Graham Blewitt as a witness. Milosevic
took the rare opportunity to confront a senior member of the
Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) to challenge the legitimacy of
the court, accuse the OTP of bias and selective prosecution,
blame NATO bombings for crimes, and make vague allegations
concerning Kosovar terrorism and bin Laden. Separately, the
trial chamber granted in full the protective measures sought
with respect to General Clark,s testimony, accepting each
of the USG,s conditions for such testimony. Clark now
appears likely to testify in December. End summary.

--------------
Week of October 21-23
--------------


2. (SBU) On October 21, the trial chamber heard from Gajic
Glisic, Chief of Staff for Serbian defense minister General
Tomislav Simovic in 1991. She sought to link Milosevic to
paramilitaries, establish his influence over the People,s
Army of Yugoslavia (JNA), and show his efforts to create a

Serbian Army. Early in her testimony, the witness publicly
thanked "Comrade Milosevic" for saving her life. She
asserted that her life was in danger after General Simovic
was "forced" out of the government, but that Milosevic
intervened on her behalf to prevent her "liquidation." She
then proceeded to provide a detailed account of interactions
between General Simovic and Milosevic. She spoke of how no
one ever disagreed with Milosevic, leaving the Minister of
Defense, inter alia, without any real power. Her testimony
also linked Milosevic to paramilitary groups by showing that
he provided them equipment and training. She also testified
that he supported them militarily through JNA operations.
She said she was certain that Milosevic knew of the war
crimes that were being committed by the paramilitary groups.
Specifically, she recounted how Milosevic ordered the JNA to
provide air support to paramilitary commander Arkan when his
forces were pinned down in Croatia. Glisic also testified
that Milosevic assigned General Simovic the task of drafting
a "secret" legislative bill that would create a "Serbian
Army," which would replace the JNA. These efforts were
eventually thwarted and General Simovic was removed from
office in December 1991.


3. (C) On October 22, Milosevic adroitly cross-examined
Glisic. Through his questioning, the Accused drew a
distinction between the "volunteers" who signed up with the
"Territorial Defense" units under the JNA versus the
paramilitary groups. She testified that the Minister of
Defense only procured equipment and gave training to
volunteers for the "Territorial Defense" units. She did,
however, again link Milosevic with paramilitary commanders
Arkan and Captain Dragan. The Accused was in unusually good
humor, smiling on occasion and at one point joking when the
witness offered to give him a manuscript of her book. He
noted that it is "good to accumulate as much paper as
possible, thank you."


4. (SBU) On October 23, the Prosecution called Ante
Markovic, Yugoslavia,s former prime minister. His testimony
sought to give the trial chamber insight into Yugoslavia,s
government and the role Milosevic played on the eve of war.
The witness did not make eye contact with Milosevic and never
faced the defendant directly. The witness asserted that he
was eventually politically isolated after his attempts at
federal reform were thwarted. He resigned in December 1991.
Markovic stated that throughout 1991 the federal
government,s power was slowly eroded by Milosevic and other
nationalist leaders. He testified that the reforms he
proposed failed in no small part because of the actions of
Milosevic.


5. (SBU) Markovic explained how Milosevic would routinely
say that he supported the federal government of Yugoslavia,
yet all of his actions sought to undermine it. Markovic said
that Milosevic was "obviously fighting for Greater Serbia,"
though he also "used everything he could to ensure power for
himself " if that was nationalism, then he used nationalism.
But he was not a nationalist. He was someone who used
anything at his disposal to secure power for himself."
Markovic also testified about how he confronted both
Milosevic and Tudjman about a secret deal to divide Bosnia
and Herzegovina between Serbia and Croatia. He stated that
both of them eventually admitted to this plan.


6. (SBU) Markovic,s testimony gave further substance to
the Prosecution,s argument that Milosevic had complete
control over the government and military. He explained how
no one under Milosevic ever went against him and stayed in
power. However, when Judge May asked for concrete examples
of this, the witness did not have a compelling answer.
Markovic went on to explain that Milosevic was also
responsible for the mobilization of the JNA in Slovenia and
its movement into Bosnia and Herzegovina. He discussed how
the Presidency had not authorized the military intervention,
but that Milosevic had control over the army. Lead
Prosecutor Geoffrey Nice also presented a recorded intercept
for Markovic to authenticate which showed Milosevic and
Karadzic discussing details of military mobilization.


7. (C) Milosevic began his cross-examination of Markovic
on the same day, although time constraints led to an
abbreviated examination. Milosevic, composed during the
questioning, provoked Markovic into emotional responses. At
two different points, Markovic asked Judge May, "who is on
trial, me or the Accused?" Judge May explained to the
witness that the Milosevic was facing serious charges and had
a right to present his case. Before the cross-examination
adjourned, Milosevic sought to establish that Markovic, not
himself, had the legal and actual power over the army.
Milosevic attempted to show that Markovic was head of state
and thereby had control and was thus responsible for the
mobilization of the JNA in Slovenia. The witness refuted
such conclusions saying that in actuality the federal
government had no power and that, as prime minister, he had
no authority to authorize the military interventions.


8. (SBU) At one point, Milosevic produced a documentary
review of the federal executive agenda for 1991 providing
details of Markovic,s schedule, which Markovic
authenticated. Milosevic said that the document came from
the federal records archive in Belgrade and then sardonically
noted that the entries for December were rather short. Nice
then noted that the archives are closed to the Prosecution
and wondered out loud how such documents were available for
the Accused. Nice later requested that the court retain the
original, against the wishes of the Accused, and also asked
how Milosevic received this document. The court decide to
retain the original and to provide copies to the parties.
Milosevic later referred to a transcript of a phone
conversation between Markovic and United States Secretary of
State James Baker III, in which Baker was alleged to have
stated that the Serbian Secretary of Defense, which reports
to the federal government, controls the army. The
cross-examination was then adjourned and will continue at a
later date.

--------------
Week of October 28-30
--------------


9. (SBU) On October 28, the trial chamber heard testimony
from two witnesses. Michel Reviere, a journalist, provided
the chamber with video footage that he and his cameraman took
of the White Eagles, a Serb paramilitary group. Reviere
testified to his conversation with two Serbian paramilitary
soldiers who approached him in a caf in Pale and proceeded
to explain their exploits and methods. The soldiers
explained that they were not paid, but were authorized to
loot and procure their own weapons and equipment. The two
soldiers then invited the journalist to their headquarters.
The video showed the paramilitary group preparing for a
mission, and then the journalist was allowed to go along with
the paramilitary group as they traveled up to a sniper
position in the heights around Sarajevo. Shooting from both
sides could be heard in the video clip, but no actual sniper
activity was recorded. The journalist traveled back up to
the sniper position the next day to get better footage.


10. (SBU) The second witness on October 28, a Bosnian
Muslim citizen of Sarajevo identified only as B-1345,
testified to his experience throughout the siege of Sarajevo.
The witness told the court how his wife and father were shot
dead and his mother shot in the leg by sniper fire.
Milosevic, during his cross-examination, said that there was
"no siege of any kind," and that this was all the
"consequence of a civil war." Milosevic also tried to
question the witness regarding the shelling of the Markale
Market on February 5, 1994, since the witness had heard
artillery fire near the Serb front lines on that day. He
asked him whether he had heard of the United Nations
Protection Force (UNPROFOR) report that concluded that there
was no way of telling who had fired the shell. Judge May
stopped Milosevic,s line of questioning, since the witness
would have no way of knowing about the report or its
conclusions. Milosevic continued to ask questions to which
the witness could not possible know the answer.


11. (SBU) On October 29, the trial chamber heard from a
crime-based witness, Jasna Denona, who testified to a
shooting that occurred in 1991 leaving a group of Croatians
and one Serbian dead. The incident was investigated in 1995,
but no charges were brought. Ms. Denona was shot twice as
she attempted to run from the house after the assailants had
opened fire. Milosevic tried to show that this was the act
of a single criminal rather than an ethnically motivated
crime committed by a group of soldiers. The second witness
to testify, a detainee in a Serbian camp in Zvornik
identified as B-1780, described how the soldiers tortured,
mutilated and killed the prisoners. He told the court that
had the scars that show the atrocities that were committed
during his detention. He placed Arkan,s men, among others,
who beat and tortured the detainees. The witness went on to
explain to the court the gruesome events that transpired
while he was in the camp. He testified that later he was
taken to the hospital, where he received nominal treatment
for his broken ribs and arm. He told the court how he fled
the hospital for fear that he would be taken out and
executed. Milosevic tried to show that the witness was
active in politics and local paramilitaries, but much of this
cross-examination took place in closed session.

--------------
Blewitt Takes the Stand as a Witness
--------------


12. (SBU) On October 30, the trial chamber heard from the
Deputy Prosecutor, Graham Blewitt. He testified to the
contents of a series of letters written in 1998 from the
Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) to then-President Milosevic
and to the Security Council regarding the investigations into
war crimes in Kosovo. The letters addressed the serious
difficulties the OTP was facing in the investigations given
the non-cooperative position that Serbia was taking at the
time. Milosevic used the rare opportunity to cross-examine a
senior member of the OTP as an opportunity to question the
objectivity of the prosecution in general and to highlight
the alleged bias between the investigations of war crimes
committed by the Serbian government versus the investigations
of NATO bombing. Judge May repeatedly checked Milosevic and
explained to him that the objectivity and credibility of the
Prosecution,s efforts was not a relevant subject matter for
this witness. Blewitt reminded Milosevic that the OTP had
indeed looked into questions associated with the NATO bombing
and decided, on legal and factual grounds, not to pursue such
an investigation. Judge May held that only the contents of
the letters were open to questioning for this witness.
Milosevic continued to ask rhetorical questions, repeatedly
referred to a report on NATO bombing, and questioned the
credibility of the prosecution in general. He attempted to
link NATO bombing with supporting and protecting Kosovar
terrorism.


13. (SBU) When Judge May repeatedly stopped his line of
questioning, Milosevic said it was no surprise that Judge May
was sensitive about addressing the NATO bombing issue. At
this, Judge May told Milosevic that his statement was
entirely inappropriate and asked him whether he had any
relevant questions for the witness, otherwise the court would
adjourn. Milosevic responded that apparently all of his
questions where improper and that this trial was a farce,
since the Judge sought to dictate to the defense what
questions they are allowed to ask. He went on further to say
that limiting his questions to the letters serves as a smoke
screen which masks the crimes committed by NATO and the link
to Osama Bin Laden,s terrorist activity. Milosevic
attempted to draw a chain of events linking Kosovar Albanian
terrorism to the Clinton Administration which led to NATO
bombings. Milosevic also questioned the legal basis of the
Tribunal,s competency. He asked Blewitt, as an
international lawyer, how the Tribunal could have
jurisdiction given that the Serbian State was looking into
the crimes. Milosevic also challenged the legitimacy of the
case against him, since the prosecution indicted him after
only investigation the case for 3-4 months. Blewitt
responded that they indicted Milosevic only after they had
constructed a case that had enough evidence against him to
support the charges. Judge May had to continue to interrupt
Milosevic,s overly broad line of questioning and eventually
adjourned the hearing.

-------------- --
Motion Granted for Clark,s Testimony
-------------- --


14. (C) On October 30, the trial chamber granted the
prosecutions motion for protections for General Clark,s
testimony. The order, which is presently under seal, has
been secure faxed to the Department. It indicates that the
trial chamber accepted the motion without modification or
caveat and met the conditions of the United States in their
entirety. Embassy legal officers are coordinating with
Clark,s staff to lock in a date for his testimony. Clark
has confirmed that he is ready to testify in December.

--------------
Comment
--------------


15. (C) The testimony over the past two weeks highlighted
several interesting features of the current stage of the
trial. For one, the Prosecution has attracted significant
insiders with apparent credibility to give evidence of
Milosevic,s control over key sectors of the federal and
state military apparatus. Embassy legal officers understand
that the Prosecution has further insiders waiting to testify.
At the same time, Milosevic -- who seemed healthier and more
vigorous and focused than in recent weeks -- continued to
demonstrate the physical and mental stamina to cross examine
witnesses effectively. Equally importantly, he demonstrated
that he retains access to Belgrade archival material to
support his defense. Nice correctly noted that Milosevic,s
access flies in the face of Belgrade's continued refusal to
provide the Prosecution with the access it needs to prosecute
fully the case. While such arguments may help demonstrate
SAM noncooperation, they do not undercut the utility of such
documents, at least when authenticated as genuine, to
Milosevic. Milosevic,s cross-examination of Blewitt was in
many respects a replay of Milosevic,s approach at the early
stages of the trial, featuring sweeping challenges ranging
from the legitimacy of the court to the fairness of the
prosecution to the culpability of the Kosovars and the
international community. While these arguments have little
legal relevance, they serve as a reminder that Milosevic is
prepared to mount as much a political defense as a legal one.
End Comment.
SOBEL