Source Pravda.Ru

Judges warn Milosevic not to dwell on NATO bombing in defense

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) Judges at the U.N. war crimes tribunal in The Hague warned former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic on Thursday not to dwell on the 1999 NATO bombing at his war crimes trial. Milosevic is presenting his defense against 66 charges, including genocide, at the lengthy trial that began in 2002 and will likely conclude in 2006. His witness Thursday, a Serb doctor, discussed NATO's campaign in 1999 to end a crackdown by Serb troops under Milosevic's control on Albanian Muslims in Kosovo, a southern province of Serbia. Milosevic argues his troops were engaged in a legitimate fight against rebels and terrorists, and that it was the NATO bombing that caused most civilian deaths and drove more than 1 million refugees from the region not Serb troops as alleged in his indictment. The judges warned Milosevic that accusing others is a waste of time, and that NATO was not on trial. War crimes investigators concluded in 2000 there was insufficient evidence to support charges against any NATO leaders or military men that civilians were illegally targeted during the 78-day bombing campaign. "The NATO bombing is not part of the case," presiding Judge Patrick Robinson warned. Robinson told Milosevic the bombing campaign could be mentioned in passing if Milosevic intended to show he was not responsible for the flight of refugees. "But you will not be allowed to continue leading evidence about NATO," Robinson said. "We don't have time to waste." "Mr. Robinson, everything that's been said today clearly indicates the cause and effect between (NATO) bombing and fleeing," Milosevic responded with a look of disgust. The witness, Dr. Vukasin Andric, was a member of a temporary Serb-dominated government in Kosovo during the bombing. Kosovo has been administered by the United Nations and NATO-led peacekeepers since 1999, after the alliance's bombing pushed Serb troops out. About 100,000 Serbs remain in Kosovo, one-third of their prewar population. They have little freedom of movement and face occasional attacks and harassment by ethnic Albanian militants. Thousands of Serbs were expelled from their homes during ethnically motivated riots last year. Associated Press