The International Tribunal, presided over by Richard May, started the trial of ex-president of Yugoslavia Slobodan Milosevic. Prosecutor General Carla Del Ponte said that the litigation could last up to two years. Unprecendented security measures have been taken, since the event is gathering a lot of people from the entire world.
As news agencies reported, Milosevic appeared in the court room wearing a dark suit and a tie; he was calm and confident.
Carla Del Ponte was the first to make a speech. The prosecutor talked about the justice and about the inevitability of retaliation. She said that Milosevic was moved by his hunger for power.
Ninety witnesses are going to participate in the trial, and Bill Clinton may be one of them. The judges of the International Tribunal of the Hague have charged the former president of Yugoslavia of committing war crimes in Kosovo in 1999, during the war in Croatia (1991-1995), and in Bosnia (1992-1995). As far as Bosnia is concerned, Milosevic is also being charged with genocide.
The court will first consider the events in Kosovo. The documents on the other two cases are to be prepared by July 1. The most severe punishment that can be ruled by the Tribunal is a lifetime of imprisonment.
As it became known, Slobodan Milosevic’s party, the Social Party of Serbia, is trying to provide for the constant presence of its representatives at the court sessions. The Canadian lawyer Christopher Black stated that the prosecution would extend the process to the maximum, for they were not successful in Milosevic’s case, so they will use him as a whipping boy.
In the meantime, a group of the deputies of the State Duma sent a letter to UN’s Secretary-General Kofi Annan, expressing solidarity with the former Yugoslavian leader. They asked Annan to dimiss Carla Del Ponte from her position.
It was stressed in the letter that new information pertaining to the links between the Liberation Army of Kosovo and Osama bin Laden (and his al-Qaeda group) changed the conception about the character of the conflict in Kosovo during 1998-1999, and, therefore, the estimation of the key figures of that conflict. It is obvious that President Milosevic was waging war against international terrorism. However, the actions of the Yugoslavian government to suppress the armed separatism and destroy the armed militant groups that terrorized the Serb and the Albanian population were pictured as repression against the civilians.
The deputies drew Annan’s attention to the fact that Carla Del Ponte had all the necessary documents concerning the terrorist activity of the Liberation Army of Kosovo at her disposal, but she deliberately refused to include them in the materials of the case. Furthermore, the court is not going to consider the war crimes committed by the USA and NATO in 1999. No wonder, taking into consideration the fact of who controls this International Tribunal. If you want to address someone, don't address Kofi Annan, address American President George (the second)W. Bush.
The Serbian minister for Justice, Vladan Batic, said that the state is not supposed to interfere in the litigation with Milosevic. As Batic claimed, the proceedings in the Hague are not the aimed against Serbia, but are a process aimed at proving the criminal responsibility of one person only. Furthermore, Milosevic does not acknowledge the government of Serbia.
Over 100-thousand Serbian citizens have already signed a petition for the immediate release of Milosevic. This petition is going to be sent to the UN and to the Hague Tribunal. The process in the Hague is going to be proved the “the lie of the century” in order to release Milosevic and find him not guilty of the charges.
Milosevic indeed used the methods of a dictator during the time of his presidency, as he often suppressed his opponents, misused the funds of the federal budget, ect. However, Milosevic’s name is written in the history as the man who ruled the country during NATO’s aggression in the spring of 1999. This was the time when the whole nation united around this leader and saw Milosevic as their protecter and the embodiment of an unconquered people.
Sergey Stefanov PRAVDA.Ru
Translated by Dmitry Sudakov